submitted by VEP student Elizabeth Ferrufino
This post is part of a series of student responses to our question, “What has the Volunteer English Program meant to you?”
Volunteer English Program is very important to me because VEP is not only to learn English but it is much more.
My name is Elizabeth Ferrufino. I am from Bolivia, South America. I taught language arts to middle school children and was a professor of research in education at Salesiana University. Although I had my social group, friends and job in Bolivia, I decided to move to the USA because my family is here. It was very hard because I had to leave behind all my life.
When I came to the USA, many things were new and different including the language. I couldn’t communicate with the people around me, I can’t go anywhere, I didn’t have friends, I can’t find a job because I can’t talk in English. I feel very sad and frustrated.
My first goal was to learn English because I think to learn English opens all the doors, including getting a job. It is the key to success.
I thought to learn English will be easy because I have two children here. They studied in this country and lived here for seventeen years and they speak just in English all the time. So I thought they could help me to learn English and to practice, but the reality was different. They wanted to speak in Spanish and practice with me. So I had to find a place to learn English. I was lucky. I remembered one day I asked a nun from St. Agnes Church about English classes. She gave me the VEP address and God gave me the opportunity to know VEP and to learn English.
I decided to go to VEP, but I felt very scared because I thought how can I say “I want to learn English” in English. I was lucky again because when I was at VEP, all the people were very friendly and very polite. I could find not only excellent tutors but also good friends.
Toby Koch was my first tutor. He was very friendly. He loved numbers and to read news. I have to practice numbers and numbers and read a lot of news. It was important and helped me to learn more vocabulary. Sandi Kwisz is my second tutor. She is very sweet and friendly. With her I have to do a lot of papers which we correct together. It is very good for me because now I can write essays. Also I like to study my “famous” book Grammar in Context 2. It helps me with grammar and vocabulary, and also, every English class we talk about different topics including politics. It helps me a lot with listening and conversation skills. Sandi is very important to me. She gave me confidence. But most importantly she is my friend.
VEP helped me a great deal to reach my goals. Now I use my own language skills in English and in Spanish to help the people in the Hispanic community. In my job I help people to fill out applications and translate papers. Now I am free, I can communicate with the people, I can read the signs in the street, I can go to different places, I can take the bus, so I feel free!
At the moment, I am looking forward to achieving my next goal to become an American citizen. Sandi is helping me to study American History.
Thanks to VEP for giving me the opportunity to learn English and the opportunity to find really good friends and for giving me confidence. Thanks to all my tutors, especially to Sandi, your job is wonderful.
God bless you today and always.