Student. Teacher. Census Worker. Supermom.

We’d like to share a student story with you all highlighting the importance of adult literacy and why’s important for the City Council and mayor to maintain funding for adult literacy at $12 million per year. 2.2 million New Yorkers like Lifen, whose story is below, need adult education!

My name is Lifen Wu. I come from Guangdong, China. I just finished junior high school in China when I was 16 years old and then I went abroad to South America. I went there because we were poor. So I went to South America and worked as a waitress in my uncle’s restaurant. Life there was challenging and interesting and I was willing to explore the new culture.

I came to the United States in 2017 for the air quality and education, both for my children and for me. I think there are a lot of opportunities in the United States. Even though I am married and have children there are still a lot of opportunities to improve myself.

This spring I got a job as a census worker with the Cooper Square Committee. Our Adult Literacy counselor Mayra helped me to prepare my resume and prepare for the interview. They were hiring two people, one person who spoke Spanish and English and one who spoke Chinese and English, and they hired me.

I thought I would speak more Chinese in this job but I speak a lot of English. We call people to make sure they’re doing okay during the coronavirus and to ask if they’ve completed the census. When we call people it’s an unlisted number, so some people were suspicious and didn’t want to answer my questions. I was working hard but felt sad because I didn’t know how to deal with different kinds of native English speakers. So I asked my manager to give send me all of the scripts, and I printed them all out and studied and studied and these really helped me. The manager thanked me for doing a good job and for all my preparation.

At the same time we’re all doing online learning at home. I have two kids in junior high school and three in elementary school. My two junior high school children can do their homework independently, but my three little ones can’t do anything independently, it’s all my job. It’s crazy! But fortunately my online English classes are similar to my children’s online classes—we all use Google Classroom and video conferencing and everything—so I could get settled in easily. So I need to thank University Settlement because before I didn’t know anything about Google Classroom or how to turn in work. So I feel like I’ve been able to get settled into online learning easier than other parents. And now I’m helping parents in my neighborhood with online classes because I have the experience at University Settlement.   

I recently found out I passed the TASC test! I still can’t believe it! Before I came to University Settlement, I didn’t know anything about High School Equivalency (HSE). So I came to the Adult Literacy Program office and they told me the correct way to take the test. I just finished junior high school in China so I still have my college dream. I want to go to college. I’m still looking for my major, but I realize I really like to serve the community and help people.

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