Ann Horan was starting a new job at Cayuga Community College and had more free time during the day. She had seen LiteracyCNY – then known as Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse – in the newspaper, and decided that it was the perfect time to volunteer.
That was 1998.
For more than twenty years, Ann has tutored students in reading and the English language. Many were newly-arrived in the United States, coming from Central and South America or Asia. Ann soon began leading the English language conversation group, often with a partner, guiding eight to ten students at a time in casual conversation, working in casual American English phrases, and adapting to local culture.
Ann was struck by the challenges these students faced. Many fled their home countries and had spent months or years in refugee camps before settling in Syracuse, where they were faced with an unfamiliar language – or entire alphabet – as they found ways to support themselves and their families. As she formed connections with these students, she found it bittersweet when they would attend the group less frequently, knowing that there were new demands on their time as they found work and new friends.
Over the years, the group had met at a variety of locations with organizations that had partnered with LiteracyCNY. Most recently, they met in the classroom as Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center. In early 2020, the group leaders were trained to use Zoom, and the group transitioned to a remote setting. With LiteracyCNY’s revival this spring, Ann and her co-leader restarted the group, bringing returning students back to the still-virtual conversation and welcoming new arrivals.
In addition to the group, Ann continues to tutor students individually. Originally matched with Matilde from Guatemala years ago, she continues to tutor his wife, Sonia.
Ann, a retired Spanish teacher, enjoys traveling throughout the Spanish-speaking world and keeping in touch with people she meets. She lives in Baldwinsville with her husband, David; two of their children live with their families in the Syracuse area, and the third in California. They have five grandchildren.