NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A Norristown woman thought her dream of being a teacher was gone. Instead, she got a chance to fulfill her dream and help people in the process.
Carole Zappala left behind her childhood dream and worked as a medical transcriptionist for decades, but she stumbled into teaching in a way she never expected.
She moves a little slowly in her legs, but Carole Zappala still has a quick mind, and uses it to volunteer to teach English to recent immigrants, helping them learn to read and write in the main language of their new country.
Watch the video…
“I always say, ‘Imagine me standing in the middle of Burma trying to learn his language,’” Zappala said. “I don’t think I could do it.”
Carole always wanted to be a teacher, but she never became one. Then she saw an ad in her local paper: “The Literacy Council of Norristown was looking for teachers,” Zappala said. “And I said, ‘Let me take a step in the direction I should have been all my life.'”
At the same time, Jane Liu of China had just joined her husband in Pennsylvania.
“Either I could go back to China and continue my career as chief physician in China, or I stay here to keep my family together,” said Jane.
Carole’s day job was as a medical transcriptionist. The Literacy Council asked if Carole wanted to volunteer to teach Jane English.
“Would I be interested? I’ve waited my whole life!” laughed Carole. “Then the panic snuck in, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m going to have a student. I don’t know how to speak Chinese!'”
But through her training, Carole taught Jane the English she needed.
Jane eventually passed the tests to become a certified acupuncturist. Now the women say they’re like mother and daughter.
And Carole learned that it’s never to late too teach.
Do you have a story about people making a difference? Email us at BrotherlyLove@CBS3.com.
For more information, contact The Literacy Council of Norristown
Reported by Dave Huddleston, CBS3