Mohamed M.

Literacy multiplies — and there’s no better demonstration of that than with Mohamed.

Mohamed was 14 when his family fled civil war in Somalia and sought refuge in the United States. He studied hard through high school and became the first in his family with the opportunity to go to college. Mohamed proudly submitted his applications and took his placement tests. When he opened his results, however, and learned his English language scores weren’t high enough, he felt disappointed at this roadblock.

But then he found free classes at the literacy council’s Open Door Learning Center and signed up for Nikki’s English and college prep class. You’d love Nikki, and so do our students. I think it’s because she’s the kind of teacher who doesn’t just teach English. She gets to know each student’s goals and then helps them get there.

And Mohamed got there. He’s now studying computer programming at Saint Paul College. But our impact didn’t end when he left our classroom.

This is where the multiplication begins.

Mohamed doesn’t just keep the knowledge he received from the Minnesota Literacy Council to himself. He shares it.

He shares it with his parents — his father attended high school but his mother has had no formal education. He shares it with his younger siblings — four brothers and five sisters.
And (our favorite) he shares it with 30+ students in his former Open Door classroom. That’s right: Mohamed is now a literacy council volunteer four days a week in the same English and college prep classes where he was once a student.

When Nikki taught Mohamed, she wasn’t teaching only Mohamed. She was, in fact, passing literacy on to Mohamed’s family, friends, neighbors, fellow students — you get the picture. This ripple effect is at work with each and every one of our students.

The moral of Mohamed’s story? The best way to multiply literacy – and give the 3,010 adults we serve each year the skills they need to access better jobs or go to college – is to share it.