Learner Stories: A Letter To The President
“When people don’t understand, I can’t say nothing.”
When NALC learner Sandra’s daughter wrote to President Obama, she didn’t think she would receive a reply.
Sandra’s daughter, Karen, takes a keen interest in world affairs, especially for a 13 year old. “She is always checking the news on her phone. We were in the park when she saw the news about the attacks in Paris.”
Upset and worried about what would happen next, Karen felt she had to speak up. She wrote a letter to President Obama explaining her concerns, and expressing her worries about avoiding further conflict. “She did not want to see more violence,” said Sandra. Karen wrote the letter herself. She read it to her mother, and asked her teacher to help her find the correct address, before mailing it to the White House.
Often, a letter to the president will take a long time to be responded to, or will receive a pre-written reply and a courtesy photograph. According to the White House website, only “a handful — just ten a day — are chosen for President Obama to personally read and respond to.” But someone at the White House read Karen’s letter, and felt it warranted attention.
On March 16, Karen received her reply, signed by the president. “Your interest in the world around you gives me great hope for the future,” wrote President Obama. “Our Nation is counting on you to stay engaged in the issues that are important to you, and to dedicate your energy and talent to improving your community and our country.”
“I was very proud,” Sandra said. She brought the letter with her to the NALC offices to share with the staff and with her tutor, Sheila. Her daughter had done something which so many people like Sandra struggle to do. She’d had her voice heard in America.
Sandra is a native Spanish speaker. Like so many other non-native English speakers, she came to the NALC to help her improve her English so she would be better able to communicate in Nashville. “When people don’t understand, I can’t say nothing,” she said. Her employer helped her to find and contact our program and she began attending lessons two years ago.
One year ago, Sandra was matched with One-on-One tutor Sheila. “Sandra is such a hard worker,” said Sheila, “she really wants to learn.” Together, Sandra and Sheila are working towards Sandra sitting her High School Equivalency test.