Cruising to Minnesota

“Here is perfect. It’s the best place I’ve been in my life to learn.”

By the time Dario arrived in Minnesota at the age of 25, he’d already traveled much of the world. On a cruise ship.

Dario started working at a young age in his home country of the Dominican Republic. School, he says, was too expensive to attend regularly.

When he was offered a job as a pool attendant on a Disney cruise ship, Dario jumped at the chance. He saw it as the perfect opportunity to explore new places and meet interesting people.

“I worked there one year. I’ve been to many countries. The ship stops in many ports. San Martin and Mexico were my favorites. We earn a lot of experience. 1500 crew. 72 languages. I speak French, English, Spanish, German, Creole, and Tagalog.”

Although he enjoyed the variety of life on the ship, when his contract ended, Dario decided to come to the United States, naming the same dreams that many immigrants share: “A better life–study, jobs, education.”

He spent the next two years living off and on in Orlando. Then, at the urging of a friend, he came to Minnesota one-and-a-half months ago. Dario quickly found the English Learning Center online and showed up at the next registration. He says, “I want to improve my English. I am in the US, so I have to understand clear. I think it is very important to me. To get jobs, I have to speak good English. I have to read and write.”

What does he think of class so far? “I’m surprised because it’s free. In my country, when I go to study English, I have to pay. I have just one hour, and sometimes they’re not on time. You have to try to learn. Here is perfect. It’s the best place I’ve been in my life to learn.”

Dario recently started a temp job working as a cook at a restaurant. It’s not as stable as he would like, as they only call when they need him. Transportation, also, is difficult, taking over an hour each way on the bus.

His true passion lies in other areas. Like singing! On top of his English lessons, Dario has been taking weekly singing lessons on the side with one of his teachers. He draws inspiration from those he calls “the romantics,” artists like Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias.

Professionally, Dario hopes to one day work in technology support, setting up computer networks for businesses. Beyond that, he’s not sure what’s in store. He explains, “When something passes, it’s one story. I can tell you my story from the past, but the future is hard. I like music. I want to know more people. Have more friends. Learn. These are future stories.” Sounds like a pretty good place to start!