Literacy project impacts community

Students help others, gain valuable experience

“We don’t need to wait to find technology to cure illiteracy. We already know how to teach people to read.”

Did you ever consider that being able to read is a gift? That’s how OC English Professor Gail Nash sees it. And it’s a gift worth passing on.

In addition to teaching her students at Oklahoma Christian, Nash and other volunteers lead a valuable program called the Community Literacy Project.

Considering that most OC students grew up in highly-literate homes surrounded by books and conversations, Nash says her students have the responsibility to extend that grace to others.

“We don’t need to wait to find technology to cure illiteracy,” Nash said. “We already know how to teach people to read. We don’t need to wait for advances in technology or medicine like are needed to cure cancer. We already know how to cure this problem.”

Nash’s passion has caught on with her TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) students and to other OC staff members, who spend lunch hours during the week teaching English to some of OC’s non-English speaking employees who work in custodial and maintenance services.

OC student Miranda Brazle is a TEFL major who serves as a student coordinator for the literacy project.

“I’m not just helping people; I’m getting experience in my field,” Brazle said.

OC’s TEFL degree program provides another advantage; Oklahoma Christian is one of just a few universities that offer a bachelor’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language.

In addition to the project’s on-campus emphasis, a group of volunteers also ventures off campus to teach English to others.

“We are reaching out to our own OC community and to the Oklahoma City community as well,” Nash said.

Brazle says she feels fortunate to help those who need to improve their linguistic skills. She says it’s a great way to connect with people she sees around campus that she hasn’t gotten to know.

“Now I can walk around campus and see them and say ‘Hi,’” she said. “I want to encourage them and lift up their day.”

By Kellie Olive and Dawn Shelton