Turkish born Gerard Cakan embarked on his journey toward becoming a U.S. citizen when he moved to the Schaumburg area in March 2016 to marry his girlfriend of three years. He was at the Library reading a flyer on English as a Second Language classes when a librarian told him about the Conversation Club. Out of curiosity, he went over to where the group meets and immediately saw Helen Stewart, community engagement librarian.
“I felt discouraged to come to the class, and kind of shy, but then I met Helen and she said ‘you’re coming to the club,’ and so I came,” Gerard said. “It just happened that the club was about to begin.”
Gerard, who has an excellent command of the English language, said he likes the Conversation Club because “it’s not a formal class for grammar. You learn about the things people are talking about.” Recent topics have been the Chicago Cubs, Bob Dylan and holidays. They also learn about our nation’s history and the special days on which we commemorate historical events. “This gives me knowledge of common things to talk about with other people,” Gerard said.
But anyone in the Conversation Club will tell you that learning is only one part of the experience. “When you come from another country, you don’t know lots of people or have connections,” Gerard said. “Then you make friends in the group and you realize you’re not the only one struggling to learn English and integrate.”
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