Arturo was a physician in his home country of Cuba. He immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 2011. This is his story in his own words:
I think everybody has a very distinct story. My story in the United States began in 2011. I came as a refugee from Cuba, where I studied English for 7 years but, given the [political] situation, there are no native English speakers in Cuba. So you don’t learn well, especially pronunciation.
This is the reason I went to Literacy Services. I am a studying person; I think I will study until the last day of my life. I learned English the wrong way and had to relearn it the right way.
The first place I lived in the US was in Waukesha, WI. I stayed at the home of a Carroll University professor; he was very kind and helpful. After three months I moved to Milwaukee, because I knew that that would be a better place for me to make my way and find my road in life. I was able to work in Milwaukee, and I was able to get help there that was not available in Waukesha.
I started studying English in a classroom setting. There were wonderful people and teachers who helped me. But Literacy Services is different—the person-to-person interaction. It is not the same as a 40-person class. Your Literacy tutor can correct you in grammar and pronunciation more easily, and in a one-on-one way. All that time, I kept studying, and my speed of improvement at Literacy was much better than in a classroom, even though the people there were very good and helpful to me. That place was a good school. Literacy Services was my home. I felt so warm and protected there.
“Literacy Services was my home”
I have two jobs now—as a customer services representative and as a medical interpreter. At one job I am giving back to people like me and at the other I am working with native English speakers, it is my new school! I met a nurse there who was working part-time, and was also a school nurse. We fell in love, got married, and she is pregnant, we are expecting twins in May. I am in heaven—working two jobs trying to get better every day. My wife is an American, so we speak English at home.
What I want to say about Literacy Services is that the way they do the work, it is more like a home. I could speak my mistakes and they would show me the right way, as a mom or a dad would do, not as a teacher. A Puerto Rican woman who was also a student there, the one who recommended it to me, said to me “you will learn something from them you can’t learn in any school.” And from the first day I knew.