Educating Adults in Western Massachusetts since 1984


I enjoyed learning everything.  Except math.  I got my GED.  And then I wanted to give back something.  So I came back to the office [in Orange], and I worked there, for quite a while.  I think I helped a lot of people.

My father, he was such an angry man.  If I tried to read studies and I couldn’t read, he would literally – and I’m not embarrassed to say this – he would slam my head on the table.  He’d say, “You’re stupid.” …The point was - I couldn’t read.

All my kids are very proud that I went back to school.  And I show them, if at my age, to go back to school, there’s no reason why you guys can’t go back to school, even with a family.


[When I was in school in Cambodia], at that time, they didn’t have high schools, have the civil war.  For a long time.  The Chinese school was opened in 1990.  It was closed for a little while because, after the Khmer Rouge, it closed. …  If you want to attend a higher class, you got to pay certain money for that.

Hands taking test

I work with a lot of people who don’t know that I can’t read and I can’t write up to now.  I may say, “How do you spell that?”  And one of the guys may spell it, and I catch it and that’s about it, you know?

I only went to the 9th grade.  I used to love school back then.  I was an A student, but my stepfather – we didn’t get along. He was too rude.  I didn’t get along with my stepfather. So my sister took me out of the house. He was too rude and abusive so we split. We left.  If my stepfather wasn’t there, I would have been in school.

I was married twenty some odd years, and my wife didn’t know I couldn’t read nor write.  … our 25th anniversary was coming up and, see, we were planning on going on a cruise.  My objective was to be able to read the menu without having to say, “What are you having?  I’ll have the same thing.”

I speak two languages and I traveled from New York City to Puerto Rico.  And so I spoke Spanish one minute and the next minute I was speaking English. … I sat in the back.  Didn’t ask any questions … I was just pushed to the next level without being asked if I understood or not.

I’ve been going [to The Literacy Project in Orange] for a long time.  Maybe two years, three years, something like that.  Because I figured out I needed to do something with my life.  I needed to make drastic changes.  There’s no life in sitting on the corner boasting.  You know what I mean?  There’s no life at all.