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Made in the 956: The Literacy Center of Harlingen

Made in the 956: The Literacy Center of Harlingen
1 month 1 week 3 days ago Tuesday, April 09 2024 Apr 9, 2024 April 09, 2024 1:19 PM April 09, 2024 in News - Local

Inside the walls of the Literacy Center of Harlingen, you'll find people from all walks of life who share one goal, to make their lives better.

"We offer several services. We are adults only, so it is 18 and up," Executive Director Marina Preston said.

Things like GED classes, basic literacy skills for English and Spanish speakers and ESL classes, are just a few of the many programs offered by the Literacy Center of Harlingen. 

"Citizenship test preparation is another one of our very strong programs. In the last year, we've had eight of our students sworn-in as United States citizens," Preston said.

Preston has been executive director for a year. 

"Even though the center has been here since, it's been in effect since 1986, but we've been in this building since 1993, essentially a lot of the relationships with the city had fallen by the wayside...after COVID was especially difficult, things like that, so I came in with the intention of really like boots on the ground, community engagement," Preston said.

While the center is based in Harlingen, the services are for everyone across the Valley. 

"That's a misconception people have, because we do get phone calls all the time. They think if they don't live in Harlingen, they're not eligible to attend, but we have students from the tri-county area," Preston said.

Another misconception, that the center just helps people from across the U.S. Mexico border.

"We get students from all over the world, honestly. We have students that come from Asia, Europe, from South America, it's really interesting to see the cultures," Preston said. "So you really do get, not only to hear their stories, but you get to learn about their cultures, and I find it fascinating."

While it's been a busy year for the center, Preston says they have no plans of slowing down. 

"We would love to have a digital literacy, which is extremely important as far as job ready skills go. Just being able to type, print, email, turn on a computer, you'd be surprised at how difficult it is. People just aren't exposed to them. So we're trying to implement that in the future and hopefully that's something we can work on offering our students coming in," Preston said.

For Preston, it'll be another year and many more of those boots on the ground. 

"My number one sort of pet project has been really just going to the community and letting them know what we do," Preston said. 

The Literacy Center of Harlingen, made in the 956. 

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