Carol Howard has years of experience as an ESL teacher in the city of Corning, New York. She has had the pleasure of helping students from all over the world become acquainted with her hometown and surrounding areas. In addition to traditional English instruction, Carol noticed that her students needed more. They needed connection to the community. This concept was at the center of her plan.
Carol describes that the complaints she hears from them are always the same, “There is nothing to do." and “Where are the people?”, “Why do people stay at home and not socialize more here?” These comments were unsettling. Her students did not see her community as she viewed it. Most do not realize they can go to a movie in town, buy shoes, clothes, eat or enjoy a cup of coffee downtown. They don't know about all the parks, lakes and wineries either. They don't understand the school system, calendar, parent conferences and school websites. They don't know where and how to start looking for a job, how to find a place of worship or fitness center.
So she set forth to make a change. If they want to be happy living here, they have to feel connected and function independently at the same time. They need a personal community assistant/culture advisor/friend and English tutor all in one. This need can't be met by one person, but it can be met by an organized community network.
Today's culture is different from the culture her immigrant grandparents found when they came here from Italy, Sicily and Scotland. Even when she was a child everyone knew their neighbors well. Communities were close knit. Today there are many ways to learn English, but a sense of belonging is a rarity. The Fluency Network provides its clients opportunity to acquire English language skills while being active members of society.