This month we are honored to introduce Rosie Buser – one of our dedicated and reliable volunteers. Rosie first worked with us 15 years ago. Life got busy (as it tends to do) so she took a break and then in 2022 when she retired she started looking for something else interesting to do. She remembered us, and how much she had enjoyed the “multicultural atmosphere” here as well as the “general respect for people” so she reached out to get involved again.
Currently Rosie is a tutor for us, and she works as a classroom helper in Beginner English twice a week. However – if we really want to get a picture of the amazing life of service Rosie has led, we have to go back. Rosie says she’s always felt a calling to service – she “finds it challenging and very rewarding.” She started out by studying to become a nun in High School at a Missionary in South America. That didn’t end up being her final path, and she started pursuing higher education instead. While she was studying Education at UW-Whitewater she spent her summers in the rural Mountains of Mexico as a bus driver and teacher. She was very involved in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, and in the 1970’s she was teaching in Houston, TX when she met her husband – who happened to be Muslim and from the Middle East. They had three children together, and the adventures of their lives took them from Texas to India, Pakistan and Kuwait, which expanded Rosie’s language skills and involvement and experience in teaching ESL. Rosie is fluent in Spanish and also speaks a little Arabic and Urdu. Rosie said she has always enjoyed visiting and living in other countries because she has always been “interested in seeing how other people approach life and what they value.”
All of these experiences lead to Rosie teaching ESL in the school district when she returned to Wisconsin. She especially loved working with the Hmong population when they immigrated to our area, describing the children as “so respectful, kind, and eager to learn.” “It really gets me going when people are eager to learn!” she added – eyes twinkling. One of her favorite memories working in the school district is when she was working at Oshkosh North, and she partnered with a teacher at Oshkosh West to introduce local students to the immigrant students. They got on a bus and rode to the other school specifically to get together in a room and just talk to each other – about their lives, interests, and stories. At the end of that, all of the students – both the Oshkosh born and immigrants students – were surprised to find out they were all pretty much the same. They had the same needs, they all liked music, they all occasionally butted heads with their parents, etc… That message – our innate sameness – is one that Rosie feels is very important. She has given dozens of presentations in her lifetime including “Refugees in Oshkosh: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (sponsored by American Association of University Women) to share that same message with the general community here. Rosie has earned numerous honors over the years for all her efforts, but she’s nowhere near finished. At the age of 75 she just began a new project – she took a mediation class so she can volunteer as a mediator for the Winnebago County Court System. This is in addition to everything she does for us here at the Winnebago Area Literacy Council – which she described as “the joy of my life. The students, the staff, and the volunteers here are all so kind and want to learn.” Rosie – thank you so much for sharing your time and talent with us and our learners here at Winnebago Area Literacy Council. Our community becomes stronger every day because of people like you!