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The NYPL English Class That Changed Her Life

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 Beowulf SheehanRose Covington and her daughter. Photo: Beowulf SheehanWhen Rose Covington moved to Harlem from Brazil in 2005, she felt lost and alone because she couldn’t speak or understand any English.

But now, after nearly one year of free English classes in one of The New York Public Library’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs, she has found her voice and confidence again.

"I was so unhappy when I first came to this country because I could not express myself," said Mrs. Covington, who discovered the free classes at Riverside Library in Manhattan. "The Library’s ESOL classes changed my life. Through them, I found my place in the U.S. Now this country feels like home."

Those English classes, along with many other essential programs and services, will be greatly curtailed under the city’s $40 million funding cut to the Library.

Growing up in Brazil, Mrs. Covington always dreamed of becoming a poet, though she ended up taking a more practical route and became a nurse’s assistant.

Thanks to the Library’s help, she is now preparing to go back to college to fulfill her dream and study English literature and poetry. And she has already published two works — including a poem!

"When I was little I never pretended to be a princess. I always said I was a poet, but I never had a chance in Brazil," she said.

"The Library saved my life and my sanity," she added. "My goal now is to increase my English and get ready to go to college."

Mrs. Covington, who lives near Hamilton Grange Library, is also determined to share her love of books and reading with her young daughter. The two now head to the Library several times a week, for free children’s programs and to discover new books and DVDS.

"To me there is something sacred about the Library. Under its roof whole worlds live inside books," she said. "All you have to do is come here to find that knowledge."

Please join Mrs. Covington and other NYPL users in speaking out against these crippling cuts, which would close up to 12 neighborhood libraries and reduce others to just four days per week. It takes just a few clicks to send a letter to your elected officials urging them to restore funding. Help save libraries!

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