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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

June 22, 2007

Literacy Advance of Houston recognized six Indo-American Distinguished Literacy Leaders in addition to the Champion of Literacy at its Champions of Literacy series event on June 22, 2007 at Hotel Derek.

This event was unlike any previous Champions of Literacy Event in many ways. The most significant differences included the inaugural Distinguished Literacy Leader Awards, and efforts of the Literacy Community Council; the volunteer Council worked hard to provide most of the planning and fundraising for the event. This event was the beginning of an effort to have more volunteer-driven events at Literacy Advance and it was a huge success!

Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, an award-winning author and poet whose work is published in leading literacy magazines and anthologies, was recognized as the 11th Champion of Literacy recipient. Her recent books include: Queen of Dreams, The Conch Bearer, The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming, and The Mistress of Spices, which was made into a film. Dr. Divakaruni spoke eloquently to the crowd of 300 and had wonderful insight into the importance of literacy and the satisfaction and joy one can receive through volunteering their time and talents.

In addition to honoring Dr. Divakaruni, we introduced the inaugural Distinguished Literacy Leader Awards recognizing six members of Houston's Indo-American community who have made significant contributions to education and literacy in India and in Houston. They included Pratham USA, Unique Industrial Products and Ekal Vidyalya, Jay Aiyer, Durga Agrawal, Ashok Rao, and Sangeeta Gad.

The guests were also inspired by the stories from our very own Literacy Advance volunteer tutor and Chair Person for the Literacy Community Council, Mrs. Priti Singh. She talked of her experience tutoring and her top ten reasons why everyone should be a volunteer! Next, her student Fanny Carreno did an amazing job telling her story about her struggles with English literacy and how her literacy has improved thanks to the classes and mentoring at Literacy Advance with Priti Singh. After the awards, several speakers, and beautiful Indian dances, the night was topped off quite nicely with dinner and a raffle drawing.

Literacy Advance is very excited about the success of this Champions of Literacy event and is thankful to all those who volunteered and worked hard to make this event possible!

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