Unfortunately, too many people in the Lowcountry missed out on the opportunity to complete their education due to family and personal circumstances, or learning challenges. Now as adults, those challenges are compounded by working multiple jobs, the busy schedule of raising children, unreliable transportation, and a multitude of other barriers neighbors face every day.
Some may give up in the face of these challenges, but not the students who walk through our doors. These students are determined to create a better life for themselves and their children—a better life through education.
Students like Zohra Tebbakh. Zohra has ridden her bike to class each week for months, rain or shine, never missing a class. “She is a very dedicated and hard-working student. During the last two semesters, we have seen a remarkable improvement in Zohra’s reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension abilities,” says her tutors Jackie DeCecco and Kathy Stutesman
In pursuing better education opportunities, Zohra moved to the Lowcountry from Morocco with her husband in 2019. Zohra’s long list of goals includes continuing with ESL classes, earning her GED, becoming a US citizen, and gaining better employment. “She has the drive, passion, and skills to accomplish all her goals. She is always friendly, on time, and willing to help in any way she is able,” said Jackie and Kathy.
Zohra and her husband currently work at local grocery stores as a cashier and a manager.
Sometimes Zohra will bring phrases to class she heard while at work. On one occasion, Zohra loaned a customer a dollar to complete their transaction, the customer returned the following day with the borrowed money. The customer responded, “Now we’re ‘even Steven.’” Zohra smiled but didn’t understand. The next day she brought the phrase to class, leading to class discussion of its meaning and usage. A new class warm-up ritual emerged as more students began sharing some phrases they heard throughout their day. For the following 13 weeks, anytime “even Steven,” or “easy peasy” was mentioned, laughter erupted and set a good tone for the class. Students became more comfortable in their learning environment as well as with each other.
The classes at Bluffton Self Help are small, usually no more than 5-10 students. They work together for 16 weeks and by the end, many times are more like family than classmates. All come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and different countries but support each other to reach their goals.
Zohra’s first languages are Arabic and French but she is always the first to step in to help her fellow students, many of whose native language is Spanish. Her positive influence often gets her assigned to a group that needs a little extra help. Together, in English, they work through the answers and complete group activities.
Zohra began classes again last week along with more than 300 other adult students for our Fall semester. Her husband recently bought her a motor scooter to make the commute a little easier. We know nothing will stop her from coming to class now, maybe just with a raincoat in hand.
Sometimes the most significant barrier for our neighbors is the long road it takes to achieve their goals. The everyday battles that wear on them, make the long sometimes bumpy, and in Zohra’s case, stormy road seems impossible. But for Zohra, and other students the end goal is worth the journey.
We are proud to walk alongside all of our neighbors – breaking down barriers and creating opportunities on their path to success.
You are also a part of that journey. You have the power to make a meaningful long-term impact on the life of one of your neighbors, their family, and our community. Please consider making a financial donation to support our hard-working neighbors take the next step in reaching their goals. Every dollar counts. Just $25 can help neighbors earn their GED.
for being here right along with us to ensure that everyone in our community has the resources they need to thrive.
Leave a Reply