Julia Karpovich is our Volunteer of the Year. This is a one-time award that is given to the volunteer who has contributed the greatest number of hours during the previous year and who has not previously received the award. Julia is awarded the Volunteer of the Year for her contribution of 477 hours of service to the library in 2012. Here is her story in her own words.
I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. I studied chemical engineering in institute. In 2000, my husband, son and I immigrated to the United States. I left behind many things I loved along with my relatives and friends and started a new life in a country on the opposite side of the globe. I had to get used to a new way of living, new customs and traditions, and learn another language. At that time I couldn’t even imagine how different my life would be in the future.
As soon as I came to the U.S., I realized that I could barely express myself, although I’d studied the English language for several years at school. I wasn’t enthusiastic about going to public places because I could not understand or be understood. When a friend of mine told me about the ESL program at AHML, I immediately decided to give it a try. That was the beginning of a wonderful journey of learning English. I began in 2002 with the Read to Learn Program. Upon graduating from that program, I worked my way through almost all of the computer programs in the ESL/Literacy Office and have been working with Linda Cesario as my tutor since February, 2004. I also successfully completed ESL classes at Harper College. I enjoyed the process of learning and expanding my knowledge in the ESL Office where, in its home-like atmosphere, all students are provided with great courses. It is very important and beneficial for us because we share similar goals to attain and the same beliefs that we can achieve them.
In June of 2009 I became a volunteer in the ESL/ Literacy Office. As a volunteer, I help keep the ESL Office in order, take care of the copying needs of the many tutors and group programs, and keep the circulating ESL collection organized and attractive. In early 2012, I became a leader of a bi-lingual English/ Russian group. In this program, which is offered to Russian native speakers with low-intermediate English skills, I help students with everyday language skills. We read articles from local newspapers and practice real life situations such as shopping, making a doctor’s appointment, or ordering food in restaurants. Recently, along with the other ESL bilingual volunteers, I’ve been trained to lead a book discussion in my native language. I’m very excited about this new program extended to non-native English speakers in our community.
This story could go on and on as does my boundless appreciation to AHML for all it has done to improve the quality of my life in this country.