In February of this year 8 scholarships were awarded to Berkeley Adult School ESL “graduates” who are now enrolled in Peralta classes. Since then an additional 18 scholarships have been awarded – 3 for spring, 1 for summer, and 14 for fall semester, for a total of 26 scholarships this first year.
Students have received between $150 and $300 dollars each. They are also receiving the moral support of many warm and generous donors who – in the face of the anti-immigrant sentiment that is so prevalent in certain circles now – have contributed to this scholarship fund. Let’s keep actively rooting for them to continue their education and make a place for themselves in this country!
If you would like to become a donor, please go to http://berkeleypublicschoolsfund.org , click “other” under “Program,” and write in “BAS-ESL Scholarship.” Thank you!
Funda (Turkey) lives with her father (70) and brother (in his late 50’s) and her 3 ½ year old daughter. She babysits in Hayward for 12-15 hours a week and is intent upon providing for her daughter, who she says “is more important than I am.” (Funda uses her daughter’s name and birth date as her email address!)
When Filip (Serbia) first came to the US he worked at McDonald’s (thinking that everyone in the US loved the iconic McDonald’s!), then as a mover in LA, where he moved a young Filipina-American student who 4 years later became his wife, in February of this year. While waiting for his residency he is unable to work or to drive, but he is looking forward to doing Counseling Psychology after improving his English in 3 ESL classes this semester.
Gabriela was born in the US of Mexican parents, but was not committed to her schooling when she was younger, and dropped out of high school. She will finish her GED at the adult school this December while concurrently taking Advanced Reading and Writing and a composition workshop – both in the ESL department at BCC, as she is unsure of her writing skills in English.
Xiaofang worked as a tax official in China before coming to the US and marrying her husband here. She has an 11-year-old daughter born in China to a previous marriage, and a 2 ½ year old son born here. She is able to study in college now while her husband does childcare as he looks for work.
Erkam fled a repressive government in Turkey which had jailed his father and brother and isolated the family and their business due to their religion. He came with his wife and older daughter (now 2), and has a months-old daughter born here. He works as a Lyft driver 10 or more hours a day, leasing a car from the company now, but hoping to make enough money to buy his own.
Lynda, from Algeria, is pregnant with a baby due in December,and had to leave her classes at the Adult School earlier in the year due to morning sickness, but this semester she is taking 2 ESL classes at BCC.
Laura babysits for a family 8-10 hours a day and is able to send money to her family in Colombia. This fall she is registered for 2 classes at BCC, although she thinks she may have to drop one because she is working so many hours that she is not confident of her ability to do well in both classes.
Mariana (Brazil) lives here with her father (an Uber driver), her mother (who cleans houses), and her brother, who attends El Cerrito High. Mariana attends class at night and works during the day – with her mother, cleaning houses, and as a barista for a catering company. Eventually she would like to study law.
Adugnaw, who speaks Amharic, won a diversity visa lottery from Ethiopia and came to the US this past February. He worked in radiology in his country, and is hoping to take health courses at Merritt after completing his basic courses at BCC – and then possibly transfer to Cal State East Bay. He lives in Berkeley with the family of a neighbor from Ethiopia, and shares a room with their young son.
Moustapha is a young man from Mali who just turned 18. On September 5, when I presented him with his check, he had just accepted a job at Zachary’s Pizza on College Ave., where he will work 4 eight-hour shifts a week while taking 3 ESL classes at BCC. He is looking forward to possibly studying computer programming next semester. He lives with his uncle (who drives for Uber and works in a retirement home), his aunt (also an Uber driver), and their children, who are 6 and 3 and whom he helps to take care of.