Celebrating the power of literacy: Paulina’s story

The Westcoast Reader has a new website and Paulina Mason’s picture is on it! Paulina invited us to share her story about adult literacy – she wants to encourage others to get the help they need to develop their skills.

Paulina was born in an orphanage in Bulgaria. Her development was delayed. She was malnourished and spent most of her time alone in a crib. When she was two and a half, Paulina was adopted. Her adopted mom helped her get healthy and learn basic skills – like how to eat properly, crawl and walk.

Paulina was born with a brain bleed, which affects how she learns. Paulina says, “I have a lot of ideas in my head, but I can’t connect my ideas to writing with a pencil. It makes me frustrated and angry. My mom was able to teach me in a way so I could learn more easily.”

Paulina’s mom used logographs with her, which are used with people who are non-verbal. This helped Paulina learn to read by connecting a written word to a picture, memorizing the shape of the word and then knowing what it says.

When Paulina got older, she joined a literacy program with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy. She got a tutor. Her tutor was encouraging and gave her time to learn her own way. Later, she joined the literacy planning committee, which she still belongs to. She is happy to contribute to the group – to help them understand the experiences of a young adult and to learn more about how some people learn.

At 20, Paulina went to Selkirk College. There, she met great teachers. She learned math, writing, reading and life skills. She also met new friends.

Paulina is now 28. She still works with a tutor. She can read things she couldn’t read before and uses tools like auto dictate to help her.

Paulina sets goals and works towards earning Decoda’s digital badges in reading and writing. She says, “I am excited to see what progress I am making with each digital badge I achieve.”

Paulina is determined. She says, “I want to write a book about my life. I want to get a better job. I am working hard at reading and writing skills. Now I know I can do it.”

Adapted from www.cbal.org.


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