Pathfinder Diep Nguyen: Finding Family in the Community

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

Family Learning Center Coordinator Diep Nguyen says that working at Tully Community Library is her "dream job."

Diep grew up around Tully Community Library.  She attended nearby Franklin Elementary School in a neighborhood with a vibrant, close-knit Vietnamese community.

Her brother lives nearby and her family lives "just down the street."  She tells me about the Tully Community Library community members:

"I feel like I am helping my family out."

Diep attended San José State University with a degree in Sociology.  Her degree has helped her to understand the needs and interests of families at Tully Community Library.

Diep's Focus as a Family Learning Coordinator at Tully Library

Diep's focus as a Family Learning Center Coordinator is to "bridge gaps for adult learners."

Diep tells me that before the Pandemic, each of the Family Learning Center Coordinators worked independently.  The Pandemic has served to unite the Coordinators so that they now create universal programs that are accessible to all neighborhoods through Zoom.  As a result, the Coordinators are even closer and have the ability to share resources with each other.

One of the universal programs Diep told me about is the Virtual Community Connection Hour.  The Coordinators provide much needed information such as help for finding assistance with:

Here are some other programs that Diep runs:

  • Citizenship class:  This class is virtual for now.  Diep tells me that "people are so eager to be citizens, it goes beyond the language barrier."
  • ESL Grammar Club:  Volunteer run by a Library and Information Science major.
  • Digital Literacy:  An 8 hour online class that each Coordinator teaches.

Diep says that in the future, she will need to consider issues like transportation and safety fears.  She is sure that hybrid classes will continue for awhile.

Diep tells me, “Along with the programs that I runs for adults I also enjoy working closely with the other librarians at my branch on a program called Friday Fun."

Teens from the neighborhood volunteer at the Library to help families make arts and crafts.  Parents bring their kids to the Library after a hard week at school so that parents and children can socialize in a fun way.  Adults can also pick up information about community resources at this program.

Diep has told me some wonderful stories about customers who have taken some of her classes.

Diep is Invited to an Oath Ceremony

Before the Pandemic, a customer was very nervous about attending any of the classes that Diep offered.  Her husband persistently urged her to overcome her fears and attend Diep's English Language and Citizenship classes.

Once the customer overcame her fears, she attended Diep's classes without fail.  After some time, Diep noticed that the customer had dropped out of the classes and assumed that she had passed her citizenship class.

The customer returned eventually and invited Diep to her naturalization ceremony.  According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, 

"The naturalization ceremony is the culmination of the naturalization process."

New citizens take the Oath of Allegiance at this ceremony.  New citizens turn in their Green Card and get their citizenship papers.  This is a formal occasion where attendees dress formally and invite close family and friends.

Diep tells me that the invitation "touched her heart."  Diep asked her why she invited her, as she was not family.

The customer told her,

"Because of your English Language and Citizenship classes, I passed.  I want to invite you as my family."

Diep proudly joined the family at the ceremony, standing next to the customer's husband and aunt.

A Customer Gains Confidence in English From Diep's Classes

One of Diep's customers, Chi, came for Diep's English classes.  Chi told Diep,

"I need to tell my friend Linda, so she can learn English."

Linda was very nervous, much like Diep's Citizenship class customer.  Linda kept turning Chi down when she asked her to join her.

After some time, Linda finally found the courage to attend a class.

Now, Linda takes classes not only at Tully, but at other libraries!

Linda now says that "English is easy."

Linda used to be so afraid to speak English.  She hesitated to go to classes, unless Diep taught them.  Diep convinced Linda to spread her wings and to have "confidence in finding her voice."

This is one of Diep's most important gifts as the Family Center Coordinator, she provides a reassuring presence that gives people the courage to go beyond what they think they can do.

If you want to attend one of these classes or other similar classes, please visit the following nine libraries for their Family Learning Centers:

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below!