Mona and Navid (Iran) write that they have had some difficulty with online classes simply because they are not used to them, and also they “now have less opportunity to talk in English.” However, “the good thing about the online classes is that some professors record their online lectures and we can go back again and review the contents.
Carmen (Mexico) writes, “My college classes in the spring were a bit difficult for me, because everything was new to me, after many years without going to school. I was already getting used to it and learning and (then) the pandemic arrives and everything changes drastically for me and the whole world!!” Distance classes are difficult for her due to the fact that her 6-year-old son is also studying online at the same time.
“Distance learning was a new practice for me, writes Bashir (Pakistan). “I admire online classes. Our lectures were recorded – that is why I had an opportunity to attend again and again. However, there are many advantages of in-person classes, (such as) opportunities to question the professor and review with classmates.”
BK (no picture), political asylum applicant from Africa, had many of the same comments. “Distance learning was very hard for me because it was my first time to take an online class. I had a hard time to figure out how it works. I think in person classes are better than online because you can directly exchange with teachers and you can also socialize with other students.”
Tamam (no picture) is a 60-year-old widow from Syria who fled from the war there in 2013. After several years at the Berkeley Adult School her teacher encouraged her to go to college. She says that “it is difficult but when I tried last year one ‘listening and speaking’ class . . . . I learned and I like it. I don’t have a family here. I don’t have (a) job. I tried before COVID-19 – maybe because of my age.”
Cher immigrated from China with her husband a couple of years ago. In China she worked in an advertising agency. She is studying accounting this semester at Berkeley City College after studying English at the adult school for two semesters. She had a part-time job but lost it because of COVID-19.
Lylia writes, “I’m from Algeria. I can speak four languages – Berber, Arabic, French, and English. I came to the U.S. in 2018 after I married a U.S. citizen who is from Algeria, too. So now I live with my husband and my 1-year-old daughter. I’m an engineer in public work, and before coming to the U.S. I worked as a math teacher in a high school. For my future I want to change careers and to be more in the computer field. Also, I want to be a good mother and to raise a happy child.”
Jessica is a young woman from Ecuador who worked there as a financial assistant and came to the U.S. last year to improve her English and to study more in the field of finance to be able to get a better job. She is working as a babysitter to support herself.
Nieves came from Mexico in 2006 for a better life. She lives with her husband and two daughters (one a first-year high school student and the other in 6th grade). She was working before COVID but lost her job as a housekeeper when the virus began to spread in California. Maria studied up to the second year of high school in Mexico and now she would like to be a fluent English speaker, get her GED, and become a kindergarten teacher in the future.
Chime is of Tibetan origin, and came from India in 1998. She speaks Tibetan, Hindi, Nepali, and Kannada in addition to English. She is a single mother who lives here with her 12-year-old daughter, who is in 7th grade this year. Chime says, “I work as a nanny and caregiver. I work really hard. Since my job is essential work, I still have my job. I have done and changed many jobs in the past 20 years. I was a legal secretary and banker in the past, but caregiver and nanny jobs are most important and rewarding for me. Becoming a nurse is my dream job and serving my community is my passion.” (Chime is a role model for persistence in education! She studied ESL at the “old” Berkeley Adult School on University Ave. before 2005, and recently got her GED at the “new” adult school on San Pablo Ave.)
Thais is a young single woman from Brazil. She came to the U.S. in December, 2017 and now lives with two roommates and works as a babysitter. Her father, a violent alcoholic, died when she was 11, and her mother had to raise three children by herself. With scholarship help in Brazil she graduated as a pharmacy technician. She progressed through four levels of ESL at the adult school before transferring to Berkeley Community College. Thais writes, “I started a new course at BBC as a CHW (Community Health Worker), and it has been a great experience for me to help the community and I want to help families that are passing the same situation that my family lived before with my father – alcoholism and domestic violence. It’s a great opportunity to make a big difference in my life and my professional career.”
The BAS-ESL Scholarship Fund has distributed more than $11,000 to 40 unique scholars in its two years of existence. If you would like to donate to the fund, you may visit the Berkeley Public Schools Fund (berkeleypublicschoolsfund.org) and click the donation button. So that your donation is properly attributed – and to be able to thank you! – please click “Other” under Program/Project and write in “BAS-ESL Scholarship.” Checks (earmarked “BAS-ESL Scholarship” on the memo line) may be sent to BPSF at P.O. Box 2066, Berkeley, CA 94702.