by Jessica Hartman
The Mensa Educational and Research Foundation announced that its annual Intellectual Benefit to Society Award will go to Landmark graduate Elizabeth Claire, for her ongoing work to benefit those learning English as a second language, creating a newspaper that reaches 140,000 people. Dave Remine, President of the Mensa Foundation, said “Because of Claire’s work many, many people will be able to achieve economic growth that might otherwise not have been able to.”
Elizabeth grew up listening to her grandparents speaking in their native Slovak language. Confused by the difference in language between her world and theirs, Elizabeth has spent a life time breaking down the barriers between languages. She developed her skills by becoming a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL).
Many years ago, at a conference in Toronto, she noticed a copy of Newcomer’s News, a project of the Ontario government designed to acclimate newcomers to Canada. She thought that someone should publish something like it for the U.S.
Twenty years later while attending the Landmark Education Self Expression and Leadership Program, Claire decided she was that someone. The newsletter began in a cramped apartment in New Jersey and was funded by a home equity loan and proceeds from 12 students who came for tutoring.
Noting that it is easy make something difficult and more difficult to make something difficult become easier, she set out to change the way immigrants assimilate English language and American culture.
She produced a free paper called Easy English News beginning in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She and her partner, Mariko Sasaki, hoped the newsletter would take off with advertisers. They lived on positive feedback for a while, delivering free papers to schools, libraries and ethnic groceries. She also assembled a crack team of Mensa members to be fact checkers and copy editors.
Eventually, the team sold subscriptions and created financial viability for the company. Her experience as a graduate of The Landmark Forum allowed her to overcome many breakdowns on the way. From nothing but a great idea, the paper grew to support her career as a writer. Elizabeth credits Landmark Education for guidance in tackling the major and minor breakdowns, including computer crashes, lost data, a broken elbow, tending her mother in hospice care, and surgery for her own cancer the following year.
The newspaper includes articles on American politics, government, heroes, history, culture and geography written in simple English. Elizabeth’s website www.elizabethclaire.com includes materials designed for use by people who are students of English as a second language. The current circulation is over 140,000 and growing.
Elizabeth has created a new life moving the enterprise to Virginia Beach and has settled into a whole new world with a new love. She says that she is fulfilling her intention to contribute to others, create abundance and have fun while staying in touch with her true spirit. She has all this while doing what she loves to do – writing.