Asha is a student at the English Learning Center. She’s also a mom. And understands better than anyone the importance of education for her and her family.
Asha knows what life is like without it. She was in second grade when civil war broke out in Somalia and she, her mother, and 8 siblings fled to Kenya. They then spent 6 years in a refugee camp where they struggled to secure enough food and water, let alone an education.
When she arrived in the United States, Asha worked as much as she could in order to raise money to bring over family members who had been left behind. Her first job, as a janitor, included 13 hour days, starting at 4am.
After her whole family safely reunited in Minnesota, Asha was ready to return to the classroom. But life took another turn. She got married, and motherhood quickly followed. Though she was thrilled to be a mom, with 3 small children and no childcare, school again moved to a back burner. At the same time, not being able to fully communicate with others in English left her feeling deeply isolated.
Now that her kids are older, Asha’s finally getting the education she’s always wanted. She came to the English Learning Center last October and has progressed with remarkable speed. She says the ELC taught her to take learning outside the classroom and often returns to school after completing 20 pages in her math book overnight!
With this dedication, Asha expects to soon move into our highest level English class. From there, she hopes to earn her GED and, eventually, become a nurse.
But Asha’s working as much for her kids’ sake as her own. She knows that the more she learns, the more she will be able to help and support them in their academic success–and, ultimately, their lives. For example, before coming to the ELC, Asha had never been to a library. Now she goes often, and she makes sure her children go with her.
Like any mother, Asha wants her children to dream. And she wants to do everything she can to help them achieve those dreams. Her oldest daughter, now 15, wants to be a social worker because she has heard stories of how one helped Asha when she first arrived in the United States.
What would life be like without school? At the thought, Asha’s brow furrows, and she grows quiet. It’s not really a stretch for her to imagine. Finally, she says:
Without school, I would have a dark life. It would be like always being in a dark room, unable to see. Since coming here, there is now light shining. My eyes are open, and I have hope. I can be whatever I want. And so can my kids.