AUBURN — Mary Beth Moyer had dreams of traveling back to Africa, serving with the Peace Corps.

“Some people fall in love with Africa,” she said. “And the people that fall in love, really fall in love.”

She’s one of those people. With a degree in International Relations, she studied for a time in Senegal.

“It’s the people, and the land and the emphasis on community,” she said.

She was ready to go to Burkina Faso with the Peace Corps until a health issue kept her here. She plans to reapply to the Peace Corps next year, but found she needed to work in the meantime.

“I was looking for something that would give me professional experience, something that would help with my Peace Corps application,” she said.

That’s when she found Literacy Volunteers, a local nonprofit that provides volunteer tutors to help teach English.

Moyer is currently helping six people — one is a woman who is preparing to take her citizenship test. She’s also helping a group of five Congolese and Angolan refugees qualify to work as certified nursing assistants.

“They’ve all been trained professionally in their own countries, but their workplace English is not at the level that they need,” she said.

She loves the work.

“I really enjoy working with adult learners,” she said. “You really don’t think about how much you use language. If your child comes home with a letter from school, you need to be able to understand that. I am finding adult learners are very motivated. They don’t want their children to be embarrassed by them. They want citizenship, they want the jobs. But they need to language to do that.”

Tahlia Chamberlain, executive director of Literacy Volunteers Androscoggin, said volunteers need to be high school graduates to tutor, she said.

“Usually people can tell if they are not well-suited,” Chamberlain said. “It has as much to do with who you are as what you know — or maybe even more. Somebody can have all the teacher’s credentials in the world and still not be a great teacher.”

Moyer is very good at what she does, Chamberlain said.

“It’s more about patience, organization, creativity, compassion, flexibility — all those traits are important. When you work with people form other countries, there is a certain amount of courage that goes into it. You are meeting with somebody and they may not speak your language, and you do not speak theirs,” she said.

Moyer speaks English, French, Spanish, a little Russian and a smattering of Fulani, an African dialect. Other then English, she doesn’t share a language with any of her students, so she’s had to come up with other ways to communicate.

“Images are a big part of it,” she said. “If we are talking about rivers, I have a picture of a river. You don’t think about it because we’ve grown up around it and we know right off.”

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