Collective Vision Board

By Monika Gadek-Stephan

This year, as part of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in September, the Education and Work Center in Hanover Park hosted a fun and inspiring project to highlight the power of dreams and hope for the future. We asked our adult education students to write on a paper star and share their reasons for learning English, their ambitions for obtaining their high school diploma, and their dreams for the future. 150 students participated, filling our colorful collective vision board with their goals, ideals, and aspirations.

We wanted to provide a platform for students to share their dreams, and we succeeded. Reading the submissions was exciting, inspiring, but also somber at times. These notes written by our adult learners were truly a testament to their resilience and determination. We learned a lot about them as immigrants, parents, employees, and students.

The word cloud below provides a glimpse of their needs: more education, better jobs, communication in the English language, and opportunities to grow and prosper.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from students this year:
“My dream is to stand out and build a better future much different to my present.”
“I want my family to be proud of me, to be the daughter that succeeded by herself.”
“I want to learn English because it is a universal language, very useful on the planet.”
“I need to be an example, so my children continue studying.”
“My dreams are to learn English to be able to practice in my profession.”
“My dream is to be part of this society.”
“I have a five-year-old autistic child, he doesn’t say many words and at school he is learning English quickly. He speaks, sings and I feel happy!! My goal is to go hand in hand with him.”
“My dream is to bring my family and be together again.”
“I want to be an English teacher.”
“English is a very important language, it opens many doors for you, it helps you get better jobs and when I have to take the test to be a citizen.”

Education and Work Center employees picked five “staff favorites” and nice prizes were given to a lot of surprised delight as we did not advertise it in advance.

This project was part of an ongoing tradition at the Education and Work Center. Last year, students participated in the "Goals Forest" project, where they shared their thoughts on leaves. In addition, every year, the staff provide free books for adults and children during this event to promote reading. Parents who read have children who read!

The Education and Work Center in Hanover Park is not just a place of learning; it is a place of dreams too!  Education can truly change lives, regardless of age, background, or circumstance. We will celebrate our 10th anniversary next year. Here's to many more years of helping make dreams come true.

Monika Gadek-Stephan is a Senior Director at the Education and Work Center in Hanover Park. She has dedicated her entire career of 28 years to adult education. Her professional journey encompassed diverse roles, including those of an English as a Second Language Teacher, Citizenship Instructor, Transitions Coordinator, and Director. As an immigrant herself, she possesses a deep comprehension of her students’ experiences, challenges, and the obstacles they encounter.
Fall 2023 - Volume 51, Number 2