I came to the United States of America on August 4, 2021. I had visited several times before as a tourist from Venezuela, but now it was different. I came as an immigrant due to the current situation in my country of origin, leaving behind a whole life that did not fit in just two suitcases.
Knowing the old Spanish proverb attributed to the devil that tourism is one thing and immigration another, it was clear to me that the process would not be easy, although I had to mentally prepare myself to live one day at a time and remember that regards and longings live in our minds trying to trick us by keeping us busy and rejoicing in small triumphs or advances.
It will be a year in this new life. I can look in the rear-view mirror and take stock of it: I live in a comfortable apartment, well-equipped, located in a quiet, safe neighborhood, surrounded by greenery. I count among my neighbors squirrels, rabbits, birds, marmots, and even smelly skunks.
I found a job 15 days after my arrival related to my background as a medical doctor. Although I do not see patients, I check their histories, diagnoses, and treatments.
Given my love of reading, I visited the state libraries where I found out about the English as a second language courses, discovering this excellent program equipped with trained and experienced teachers, with schedules adjusted to mine, and Zoom classes, which are free. I consider it a triumph to be taking these courses. My English has improved despite my lack of talent for learning it before moving here. The excellent methodology of the teacher, the exchange with my fellow students, and my discipline has made it possible.
I have free time to read, listen to music, watch movies, exercise every day, cook and drink whiskey on Fridays. Having such a good quality of life is a triumph to me.
I keep the hope of returning to Venezuela, for which I have not burned my ships like Hernan Cortes, who did it so as to not return to Spain. But for now, I am grateful for the welcome I have received in North America.
I honor this with my work, dedication, and being a good citizen.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Elvin is a graduate of PPL’s Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI) English class program. He participated at Cranston Public Library’s Auburn branch and in an online writing class for almost a year before enrolling in a medical coding course that required exclusive dedication. In Elvin’s words…
The classes were excellent. I improved my English in writing, reading, listening, and speaking, but the best thing was gaining self-confidence. It was an enriching, nutritious and profitable experience with an excellent and unbeatable teacher whose method allows students to overcome their fears and learn something as harsh as grammar in a friendly and fun way. The classmates, who come from different parts of the world, are worthy people, fighters with a great desire to excel and who, thanks to programs such as that of the Library, get a vehicle to progress. Programs like this show that education is the only way to self-improvement and combat poverty. By providing people with the necessary tools, they can design their life projects dignifiedly and with values that highlight the human condition.
Elvin’s story was first published on The Public’s Radio’s community essay series as part of its Mosaic podcast on immigration. We are pleased to be able to include a link to this essay in Elvin’s own words.