Yassir Al Shaikhly

Adult Literacy Assistant, Nashville Public Library

I came to Nashville in 2009 as an immigrant from Iraq. I had heard of the public library system in the U.S. from a friend, but had no idea the extent of services the library offered – and for free. At the time, I didn’t have access to a car or a device to learn the bus route and wasn’t able to communicate with my friends and family back home.

So I began to walk and finally found the Edmonson Pike branch library. After that, everything changed for the better. I was able to use the computers and Wi-Fi to talk with my family for the first time in two months. I spent about five hours a day there, studying for the GED test, and I learned about public services, programs and community education classes offered by the library and partner organizations.

At Nashville Public Library, we come to you. If you are disabled, don’t have a car or live far away, we can still help you learn English, help you get your GED and continue your education.

Since coming to the library, I’ve earned my GED and associate degree and am currently a senior at MTSU studying computer information systems. I became naturalized last year after passing the U.S. citizenship test, thanks to the helpful resources offered by the library’s Pathways for New Americans initiative.

Today, I’m proud to serve as the library’s Adult Literacy assistant and help other immigrants and adults in Nashville learn how to use computers and technology, get jobs, and understand all the resources the library has to offer. The library is not just a place for books, as many adult refugees and immigrants believe. At Nashville Public Library, we come to you. If you are disabled, don’t have a car or live far away, we can still help you learn English, help you get your GED and continue your education. This isn’t the case in other countries. When I came here, I was 24 years old, and I discovered the library by myself. I enjoy getting to help other adults who are in need of someone to show them what resources are made available by the public library system.