A few weeks ago ago I had the privilege to collaborate in this project, Elevating Our Voices: Immigrants Building Up Washington, D.C., along with the Carlos Rosario School to highlight the lives of immigrants who come to the U.S. in search of a better life. Listening to their stories and their willingness to overcome despite the obstacles of life inspired me to continue pursuing my dreams. I can relate myself to their stories since I'm an immigrant as well. I hope that by bringing these stories to light people will have a better perspective of the contributions that immigrants bring to this country and all that they have to go through in order to acquire their goals and ambitions.
“Immigration is a gift to all. To hosts, it is an opportunity to truly put into practice their humanist values. To immigrants, it is a chance to make their own history in their new world. And for both, it is the moment to build a bridge among cultures and traditions.”
Originally from Afghanistan, Sayed is a father of three children. He is a consultant at the American Council for International Education working to build cross-cultural understanding with international students all over the United States. Sayed’s passion is building ideas and sharing them with others to create bridges of mutual understanding. His dream is to make bridges and nurture constructive co-existence among peoples through scholarly and public contributions. Sayed just finished the Vocabulary class at the Carlos Rosario School and will graduate from ESL 8 this year.
“Going to church is important to me... I can connect with my community and with God.”
Originally from Mexico, Filiboria works in the cleaning services industry. She loves her job, she says, because it allows her to make a living with dignity. She is a devoted Catholic and goes to church every Sunday. She has two daughters who work in Washington, D.C. schools. She is very proud of them and thankful that they have been able to find opportunities in this country. The Carlos Rosario School is the first school Filiboria has ever attended. She is taking the Native Language Literacy class.
“The world is very big; make yourself wise with knowledge and allow your character to navigate your own course.”
Tada came from Thailand to the United States in 2012. She considers herself a very fun person with enormous energy and discipline. She seeks freedom and variety above all else and is constantly trying new things. Tada loves to smile, cook, dance, exercise, wear fashion, travel, and meditate. Ever since enrolling in the Carlos Rosario School’s Culinary Arts program, she went from being a person who did not know how to cook to becoming a chef.
Diversity in Unity
The beauty of nature
The meaning of life
Black, White, African, Asian, Latino, Muslim, Christian
Everyone is different
We are all beautiful with these differences
Excerpt from a poem written by Kedija after a discussion on inclusion with her fellow classmates
Kedija is originally from Ethiopia. She comes from a family of merchants and has five sisters and six brothers. In her country she received a Bachelor's Degree in Education and was an Amharic language teacher. In the United States, she continues to give back as a Home Health Aide, a job that is difficult but that she really enjoys. She enjoys her job because she is able to help those who cannot help themselves. Kedija finished all levels of ESL, including the Vocabulary class. In the future she would like to volunteer teaching Amharic classes at the Carlos Rosario School. She won a scholarship from the Carlos Rosario School and she will go to Northern Virginia College to become a dental assistant.
“Everything you do today can better your tomorrow.”
Jorge came to the United States in December of 2013. He is originally from Honduras, where he graduated from a science and arts prep school. In the United States, Jorge has worked in hotels and restaurants. He recently applied for the biology program at the University of the District of Columbia, with the goal of eventually becoming a doctor so he can help people. He keeps active in the city playing soccer and going to the gym. Jorge is graduating from ESL 8 this year.
“There are no limits in life, we can do anything our minds imagine us to do. Enjoy life, be happy, smile.”
Originally from Mexico City, Bernardo has a dream of having a cooking show specializing in Mexican food. He is inspired by his grandfather, who was a professional chef for 30 strong years. He enjoys spending time with his family, his boyfriend and puppies. Bernardo loves his new home, the District of Columbia, because of its diversity, different cultures, and backgrounds that lead to an amazing array of culinary delights. He is graduating from the Carlos Rosario School’s Culinary Arts Academy, and will continue to gain a higher education degree in culinary arts.
“We came here because we needed to come here. Everyone deserves liberty, freedom and opportunities.”
Pawoubadi graduated from high school in his home country of Togo shortly before coming to the United States. He speaks five languages, including Kabye, his mother tongue, French, and English. Pawoubadi has enjoyed making many friends at the school from places around the world. In his day job, he escorts people with disabilities into their vehicles to ensure they get to their destination safely and are able to live a more independent life. He is an IT fundamentals student at the Carlos Rosario School who is working to get his A+ certification and enter the cybersecurity engineering field.
“I define myself as a fighter, and fighters don’t see walls. Some may seek to put barriers, walls, in front of you. For me, that’s like wood that fuels my drive to achieve even more.”
Originally from El Salvador and the son of a single mother, Josue learned from her at a young age how to be a fighter. He has been working in the hospitality industry in Washington, D.C. in roles with increasing responsibility since 2008. Josue started studying intermediate English at the Carlos Rosario School in 2011 and recently graduated from the School’s Culinary Arts Academy. He recently enrolled in a hospitality management program at the University of the District of Columbia. He is the only Latinx student in his new class, which he says will be a challenge he is excited to tackle.
“Everyone has the right to fight for their dreams. We make America the country of our dreams."
Kelly came from El Salvador to the United States a little over a year ago. She has a degree in Tourism Administration Technology from her home country. Currently, she works at an Italian restaurant while studying English at the Carlos Rosario School. Kelly dreams of traveling to Europe. In the future, she would like to validate her tourism degree, obtain a business degree and start a restaurant.