Success Story: Susan & Erica

Our June Success Story (also featured in our e-mail newsletter) highlights the progress of the Read Together pair of tutor Susan Weems and learner Erica.

Susan Weems and Erica photo

Susan began working with Erica, an English Language learner who is now a rising Freshman at Brunswick High School, in September 2020. “At our sessions, Erica’s daily experiences and the world around her have guided our reading and writing,” said Susan. "For example, most recently, Erica was so thrilled to get up on a horse at the June Readers Ride event that she followed up by writing a short story.”

Her tutoring sessions with Susan are not the only place where Erica’s improved writing is getting attention. Her essay “My first home in the United States” about Erica’s mixed feelings about leaving her family’s apartment at Brunswick Landing was published by Maine newspaper "Amjambo Africa" in their June edition! “Moving in [at Brunswick Landing] was a very happy moment and many people welcomed us with a big heart that I’m very thankful for,” wrote Erica in her essay. “I was very happy at the Landing because I fit in and had friends. Many people helped me to learn English. Every time I had a problem with something, people were there to help me and were very supportive.”

Congratulations to Erica on her publication in "Amjambo Africa" and to both her and Susan on the steady tutoring progress that helped get Erica to this point with her writing. The full text of Erica's essay, "My first home in the United States" is below:

My first home in the United States

In June 2019, my family was given a home at Brunswick Landing. Before I came to Brunswick, we lived at the Portland Expo. It was very exciting at the Expo because there were a lot of people that came at the same time, and we knew each other well because we traveled together.

A lot of volunteers also came to the Expo to help us. They played with us, sang with us, brought snacks and clothes for us, and much more. We all got free tickets to the baseball game, and tickets for free food at the game. The volunteers babysat for kids so parents could do other things. They gave us lessons in speaking English at Portland summer school. They took us to a park that had a water fountain in it, and we had picnics there.

What was not great at the Expo was that we had to stay there such a long time because we couldn’t find a place to live. We were one of the last families there – other people came first for housing.

When we found a house in Brunswick Landing, it was very exciting, but it took a long time for all five families to move in. Moving in was a very happy time and so many people welcomed us with a big heart – that I’m very thankful for. Everyone was very patient with us, because we couldn’t speak English. When we moved into the house, a lot of volunteers came with furniture, blankets, food, toys, clothes, and school supplies. Some of the helpers were Dana, Sue, Jaed, Sara, Mrs. Darby, and Vladimir.

Living at Brunswick Landing was a very big thing because it was such a calm neighborhood. People were very welcoming and helpful, and very nice. I was very happy at the Landing because I fit in and had friends. Many people helped me to learn English. Every time I had a problem with something, people were there to help me, and were very supportive.

For people wanting to live in Brunswick, I will tell you that everyone is so friendly and helpful. Now that I’m moving to a new home, I am happy, but also sad for leaving this wonderful place. I will miss the people that I met there and who helped me and my family. 

Erica Inacia
14 years old
from Luanda, Angola