Halina, 32, began attending classes at Open Door Learning Center on St. Paul's East Side after arriving from Belarus.
She graduated in December 2015 after accepting a position in her field. In these excerpts from her submission to Journeys and a letter to staff, Halina reflects on her experience as an English language learner.
HALINA ON HER FIRST DAY:
At registration, site coordinator Mary had a nice conversation with my personal translator, my husband, because I could understand absolutely nothing. I just smiled and whispered to my hubby, "Just make sure to tell Mary that my English is a zero. No, even worse than that – a negative zero"!
HALINA ON UNDERSTANDING HER TEACHERS:
Teacher Paul is a great educator who’s passionate about his craft. He must have had a voice implant, because he was the only person I could understand. Not my classmates, not a store clerk, but just him!
The first month was extremely tough, but it gradually started to get better. My vocabulary started to grow with new words and phrases: "Hands up, open notebooks, sign in."
HALINA ON THE IMPACT OF LEARNING ENGLISH:
After I started studying English, my fear of people began to vanish. Everything around me – my neighbors, my store, my school, my teachers and friends – made me feel at home. I was scared, but I closed my eyes and took a step forward.
Thanks to Open Door, I got more confident, knowledgable and gained friends! I am eternally grateful to everyone here.