Regional Connections is proud to say Margaretha Giesbrecht, a student in the Literacy Writing class in Winkler, was recognized provincially for her writing.   

Giesbrecht shared a bit of her background and how she came to the program. 

"I come from Bolivia, and I was born into a horse and buggy colony there, where education is very, very discouraged because it's actually looked upon a sin because a person should never know anything more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. So, the three Rs, that's all the person should know. If you get any higher education, you are now walking into the world. And the way we were brought up, that was a sin, so education was never looked up on. It was always looked down on and that is probably why it also was so very hard for me to walk into our classroom the first day because of my mindset and the way I had grown up."  

Giesbrecht came to Canada in 1989 but due to this teaching, she didn't want to take the help offered to her then, but later she started taking a writing class at Regional Connections. 

"I ended up there in 2015 because my social worker wanted me to learn to write English better. So, I took the bite, or the plunge as someone would say, and I went there with very, very wobbly legs. That first day of class, I went and registered myself and I went for class, and I have been taking classes there now on and off since 2015. And I learned to write. I already knew how to read and speak; I just didn't know how to write because people had to sound my messages out if they wanted to understand me and my messages."  

Last month, Giesbrecht received an email telling her she had won the Adult Secondary Education Council (ASEC) Starr Writers Contest she had entered. 

"Yes, I had sent in my journey of learning of how I came to be there (RC), and where I want to go from there, and they were impressed, and I did when the Starr Writers Award. I just sat there crying my eyes out when I read that email. I was like, 'What? Me?' I was not expecting it. I was very emotional."  

Starr Writers Contest winner Margaretha GiesbrechtStarr Writers Contest winner Margaretha Giesbrecht

Giesbrecht admitted the journey was difficult as she persevered, having to write and rewrite assignments over and over again until it clicked. She encourages adults, especially young people, to take the classes at Regional Connections to help them find their confidence and to give themselves more choices.  

Giesbrecht said this has given her confidence and passion to achieve more goals. 

"So, I'm planning on studying as long as I can and as much as I can, because you can never out-learn, you can never out-learn. You can always, always learn. I encourage adults every day when I meet new people to take classes, Regional Connections has awesome classes. They're free. You can do it. Go to school. And some are like, 'But then I would have to start from the beginning. That would be embarrassing. I would be like in kindergarten.' So what? I started in kindergarten. That is not a problem. At least you are learning, even if it is hard, but you're learning." 

Giesbrecht said her teacher Jaimie Pankratz-Friesen is a patient teacher and is grateful for all she has taught her. She said sometimes she would pray all the way through school and on her way home to do her homework, but she is grateful for the support she received from her teacher, her church family, and her children and grandchildren, who have stood behind her on her learning journey. 

You can hear her full story here: