A New Life in a New Culture

June 21, 2012 | Chicago, IL

My name is Robert and I want to share some experiences I have had in this country. I came to the U.S. in 2001. In truth, I did not know what to expect in this country when I arrived, and it was very hard, because I arrived with strangers and had to adapt myself to them. I did not know what my destiny would be in this country.

As many of us do, I went through a lot of negative experiences. For example, I was unemployed and desperate for 3 long months, with no money to pay the rent or eat. The people that I met when I arrived told me how I had go to the temporary work offices at 4:00 a.m. every single day to see if they would send me somewhere to work. But one day, thank God, I met a man named Roman, and told him my story. He kindly said to me, “Don’t worry, I'll help you - where I work they are currently hiring and I will recommend you for the job.” We also talked about my situation and living conditions, and he told me he would help with that too, and that I could move into his house! I’m so grateful for his generosity. As of today, I have lived in Roman’s house for eleven years.

So, I started my new life by adapting to this new culture and new language. Actually, I did not know any English or how to use a computer. I have worked for the company for eleven years, and I started like everybody else, as a dish washer. But I set a goal for myself, because I suffered a lot with a supervisor who discriminated against me, for many reasons that I never understood or what was supposedly wrong with me.

Because I was desperately in need, I worked two jobs for about seven years. I got up at 4:00 a.m. and fell asleep at 1:00 am. Basically, I was sleeping three hours a day. Fortunately for me, my luck changed thanks to my perseverance and dedication.

Seven years later and at the same time, I got two job offers. The restaurant owner told me that I would have to leave one of the two jobs in order to devote 100% to the other one. I chose the job I currently have at Home Run Inn Pizza.

The owner told me: you will be promoted to a supervisor position, but we have two conditions for you if you are interested in this position. And I said “¡En la torre!” (In the tower! “En la torre!” is a popular Mexican expression). Now what do they want?! The conditions for the promotion were: 1. learn to use a computer and 2. learn English. I proudly accepted the challenge

In July 2010 I started taking computer classes at Erie Neighborhood House. Six months later I graduated from the Basic Computer Class. In January 2011 I started my English as a Second Language classes, and have continued on to the fourth level. In addition, I continued studying more advanced computer classes, and soon I graduated as a Technology Promoter. I'm still taking computer advanced classes and studying English, and I am currently part of the Community Technology Advisory Committee at Erie House. I also volunteer part-time helping other technology students with their homework during open work time. I never thought that one day I would learn to use a computer, let alone help others learn to use one.

When my supervisor asked me if I had learned to use the computer, I was very proud to show him that I have obtained the certificates. I am very happy for all my achievements. My English has improved considerably, and I think that whatever goal we set, we can achieve it! Now I have more time to rest and to attend my classes.

I want to give special thanks to my teacher MARIA SERNA for her time, patience and everything that she has taught me.


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