The August 2017 Ministries Stories are from Learning In Style School students who, with the help of LIS, learn new skills and build their families’ lives in America. Help support this program by donating today.
LIS Supports a Motivated Man from Togo
This student credits LIS with providing him with the tools necessary for his success, and says during his three years there, the teachers and staff gave him everything he needed to pursue his career. Below is a picture by the student and his story.
I came from Togo with a degree in Mathematics. This meant nothing because I had no English skills and none of my education credits transferred into American schools. In Togo, I had a home, a job, and a nice family; however there was much political strife in my country and I wanted a better future for my family. I came without my wife and two sons but wanted to do everything I needed to send for them.
I enrolled at LIS right away. I wanted to speak, read and write English. I wanted to integrate into the community, to further my education, to get my driver’s license, and to get my citizenship. I found a job that required no English skills, and I stayed there for seven years because the hours were flexible enough for me to go to school.
At LIS, It wasn’t completely about learning the English language. The teachers and staff helped us to learn about the culture. They helped me to apply for a job. They gave us breakfast – and for many of us this meant our only meal for the day. They helped us with clothing and finding used furniture, etc. LIS always had a feeling of home. The environment was welcoming and it felt safe to learn. The teachers and staff were like family, and had a willingness to listen. Students could talk about the issues and problems of integrating into the community and of being a part of the culture. And the best thing at LIS was that they helped me get my citizenship and bring my family to America. This took a lot of time, and with a lot of help from LIS, much red tape and money, I was able to send for my wife and sons.
After three years at LIS, I was able to test out of classes, and get my GED. I knew then that I had the language skills and confidence to excel in future education. I then received an Associate degree in Applied Science and a BS degree in Electrical Engineering.
My family lives in our own home. We are much better off financially. My wife and I both have jobs. My sons are both in school and are active in music. I have been a communication technician for 2 ½ years. I am attending school where my Master’s degree is in progress.
We are all very happy in our lives.
Respect! I Can Stick Up for Myself
I was very unhappy and depressed before I came to LIS. I came from Mexico with my baby girl. When I came to this country, there was a job waiting for me in Oklahoma. I was a housekeeper/nanny for a family who lived on a farm. No one spoke Spanish. Everything was new and strange. I was used to a Catholic home environment where our church was our life. We lived on a farm out in the country and there was no way for me to get into town. During the 1 ½ years I lived there, I never left the house or the property, and I was unable to have Hispanic friends or to speak Spanish. I was very lonely.
I eventually told my boss that I didn’t need help and would find a job and make my own way. For the next 18 years, I moved to various states and in between I went to Mexico for short visits. Most of the time I was able to find work, but sometimes my daughter and I lived in shelters. I continued to live with white families as a housekeeper/nanny and didn’t need or get a chance to learn English. I was always unhappy because I felt isolated from everyone.
During this time I got married and had two boys. I still felt alone and depressed. I couldn’t speak the language and couldn’t go out into the community. I stayed at home afraid to leave my house.
In 2008, I came to Minneapolis with my husband and three children. I started LIS in 2010, and began to speak, read and write English. This is when my life changed completely. For the first time in my life I began to know happiness. I also started to help my children with their school work, and I was able to speak to their teachers. I could make my own appointments and speak to medical staff without an interpreter.
All of what I tell you is because of LIS. Without them, my life would not have changed and I would not be happy with my family.
The teachers helped me to feel confident. They encouraged me to use what I learned at school out in the community. They always told me I was smart. They always told me I was good. The English they taught was from a book but they also taught us terms and expressions we needed to know to fit into the culture. Both of my boys were at the Children’s Center while I was in classes at LIS. I would not have been able to go to school if LIS had not provided this child care. I was very lucky to have the boys in the same building with me every day.
Today, I can stick up for myself. I can ask directions, and follow what I’m told to do. I feel like people respect me because I know what they are saying. I can tell them what I think and what I need. I don’t feel ignored anymore. I am equal with others because I can speak and understand the English language.
I am a proud American Citizen. I got my citizenship while I was at LIS. It wasn’t one of my goals, but my teacher kept after me to study for it at LIS. It was hard for me, but there were many teachers and students who helped me study. When I passed my citizenship test and became a citizen, I was very proud. I cooked food for everyone at LIS and had a party to celebrate this big event in my life.
Now, my two boys are in school and my oldest daughter is away at a university. I go to my job at a nursing home. On some nights, I go to church. In the evenings, I sometimes go to other people’s homes and pray with them. On weekends, my family and I are active in our church.
We are very happy. My family has been together for a long time and have had our struggles, but we love each other and our life has what we need – a nice place to live, church, food and good jobs.