The need to learn is one felt by all different kinds of people. In adult education, we find ourselves working with students who have dealt with harsh circumstances and where education has often taken a back seat to other priorities. Whether it is dropping out of school at an early age, facing jail time, or, like Silvia’s story, simply needing a fresh start in another country…no story is the same.
Silvia Cazarin was born and raised near the Gulf of Mexico in a caring family where she was able to focus on education and some of the finer things in life, like interior design and oil painting. Her hard-working father made it possible for Silvia to grow up with breakfast served in bed and not having to cook or clean. She had a supportive family that allowed her to flourish in her studies and hobbies which eventually led to a degree in and opening a business for interior design. She met an American who asked her to move back to the United States with him, especially since she was about to give birth to their daughter. With only her father left living, but extremely sick, she chose to stay; taking care of her father was Silvia’s priority.
After some time Silvia’s father passed away and her neighborhood began to descend into crime, kidnapping, and murder. With three close friends being kidnapped, two of which murdered, she knew she needed to escape as the dangers began to build against her. With nothing but a suitcase in one hand and her 15 year-old daughter’s hand in the other, Silvia set out for the United States.
It has been two years since Silvia left Mexico to brave a new world of opportunities for her daughter and for herself. Barely able to speak English, she enrolled, joined, and participated in any English program she could find. Silvia applied for MJC’s English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) program as well as signing up with LearningQuest for one-on-one reading and writing tutoring.
Silvia entered the LearningQuest tutoring program reading English at a fifth grade level, but needing even more support with writing and communication skills. It took her just over a year and she is already reading at a seventh grade level, making huge strides of improvement in her English writing and speaking. Finding the right tutor-student match is essential to success and Silvia’s tutor, Linda Reachert, has continued to guide her along this journey. Silvia said, “My tutor is amazing, she is very educated, nice, and is willing to do anything to help me.”
In a year, Silvia has taken a noble approach to stepping outside of the comfort zone her privileged upbringing provided her by eagerly working to learn and experience more. For Silvia, mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry were skills she wanted to develop just as much as her focus on improving her English and keeping up with her studies. She recently found a job as a tennis instructor, has been awarded the 2018 Student Achievement Award in Literacy by the Literacy Network of Stanislaus County, and has come to enjoy borrowing cook books from the library, shopping for ingredients, and then tackling recipes. Linda compliments Silvia’s outstanding commitment to learning, her sharp mind, humble attitude, and ability to learn and adapt in any situation.
Silvia’s start was a kind one that many don’t usually experience, but the determination she needed to change her life, and her daughter’s life, is something we recognize in all of our students. Silvia’s grit and purpose have created so many more opportunities for her to grow and become the person she knows she can be.