BENEFITING: Volunteer Center Of East Central Wisconsin Inc
EVENT: Volunteer Center Human Race
Volunteer Center Of East Central Wisconsin Inc wrote -
The Fox Valley Literacy Council is a community-based nonprofit organization that trains volunteers to provide client-focused adult literacy education to people in the Fox Cities area. Funds raised from The Human Race will be used for books and educational materials for our students and tutors.
Check out these success stories!
In 1998, Hawaida came to the U.S. from Egypt. She was 6 months pregnant with her son, Mohammed. “I was terrified of everything. First off, I couldn’t speak English, so how was I supposed to communicate with others? I kept having this fear hanging over my head that there would be a fire at the house and I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone because I couldn’t speak English. My husband and his family wanted the ‘American dream’ so we came here. It was good at first because everyone was so accepting and welcoming, but then September 11th happened and everything kind of shifted”.
“After September 11th, the racism was crazy, I came here before it even happened, and was treated horribly. I remember one day I was in the YMCA changing room and a lady walked up to me saying I didn’t have to wear my hijab, I calmly told her to mind her business because my religion is not her problem. She then began to yell and scream at me that I should take off my hijab. Thankfully someone got involved and stopped her.”
Hawaida and her husband divorced. When they were married, “he didn’t want me to learn English at all. When I asked him to teach me or help me learn it he told me that there was no point in learning it and that I didn’t need it. When I got divorced I felt useless, I couldn’t read or write and I was lost. He was the provider for all of those years, he went shopping and brought things home and took care of us. So now without that shelter I had before, I was helpless.” She wound up at Harbor House, a shelter for abused women. “After the Harbor house sent me here to FVLC I saw a huge change. I was finally able to talk to people, understand what they were saying, and do everyday things like a regular person. I could even help my kids with their homework now, it felt liberating.”
When asked what the most challenging part of learning English was, she replied, “writing was very hard for me at first, but I am much better at it now. It was the most important part to me because I am taking culinary classes right now to become a chef. I am very thankful for FVLC, because I have no idea where I would be without everyone here who helped me.”
Yia Yang is a current ELL student at FVLC. She came to the United States in the fall of 2004 from a refugee camp in Thailand. Prior to that, her family members were farmers. She had no formal education in Thailand. On her flight to the US, she recalls thinking how lucky and blessed she was to be able to come to America. Afraid and hesitant about what the future would bring, she was excited at the same time.
When asked what was the most difficult for her, she replied, “learning the language is hard, adapting to the culture, and getting to places without a car or money. The Hmong American Partnership helped us a great deal. The organization was able to help us with filling out legal documentations, finding employment, and provide transportation.”
Yia wanted to better herself by learning English. She was referred to the Fox Valley Literacy Council by a friend who was attending classes at FVLC. After many months of learning English, she wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a US citizen. Her dream came true last year when she passed her citizenship exam.
Yia is currently working as a caretaker for the time being, but hopes to reach her American dream in the future. She wants to own a family restaurant. She also sews clothes for a living, something she learned to do in Thailand as that is what young girls do when they are not at the field farming. One day she hopes to go back to Thailand for a visit and reminisce about good memories.
Yia would like to thank FVLC for supporting her and helping her achieve her goals. She says she has more confidence and being able to communicate with people makes her happy.