I came to the US from Damascus, Syria, at the end of 2015. I was happy to join my husband Edmon in the land of freedom and opportunity. But when I arrived, everything was new for me, and I faced challenges in every area of my life. In Syria I had worked for many years as an executive office manager in a prominent advertising company. I have expertise in administrative, financial, design, and technical work, and I hold an Associate degree from the Intermediate Institute for Feminine Arts in Syria. In the US, I struggled to communicate. It felt like I was starting life from scratch.
My husband had already started studying English with RIFLI, and he encouraged me to join him. I took my first class in 2016, at William Hall Library near our home in Cranston. I learned the basics from Jon, and then moved up to Margaret’s intermediate class. Margaret was a wonderful teacher and always treated me like a friend, encouraging me to speak and interact with my classmates.
At the same time, I joined Mary’s citizenship class. Another new and interesting challenge! Mary is an amazing teacher, very professional and practical. I became eager to participate and interact in these lessons, and this, in turn, significantly improved my English. After my successful interview in the spring of 2021, I was thrilled to become a US citizen at last.
My teachers showed a deep understanding of the transition that I was going through, and they provided great support as I overcame hard times and began to participate more in the new life around me. In all of PPL’s classes and programs, the atmosphere is one of harmony, love, and cooperation.
I consider Chris to be my mentor as I continue my educational and professional career. He advised me to join the Microsoft Office Specialist program (a partnership with Roger Williams University), and he supported me every step of the way as I mastered the difficult vocabulary of the course and earned my certificate. He also encouraged me to take a class on Tableau, which is an important data analysis program.
Now I’m studying English for Business Owners with Anna. In these classes we’re learning the specialized vocabulary of the field, while focusing on the requirements of starting a new business: licenses, financial management, filing taxes. This information is valuable to me, since I’m considering starting my own business.
I consider RIFLI and its teachers to be my second family, and a source of comfort and support. Providence Public Library has given me so much at the start of my life in the United States, and now I’ve begun to give back as a volunteer. I’m drawing on my experience in the citizenship process to help other people as they prepare to interview.
I urge everyone to support PPL however they can. Just like it was for me, the Library door is open to all immigrants who need help as they build their new lives in the US.