ORLANDO | Yuliya Popovych teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for Catholic Charities Comprehensive Refugee Services. The Ukrainian immigrant taught English to college students in her homeland and now teaches four days per week in two central Florida counties. She has 20 students in her eight-week class at Orlovista Park in Orlando. Half the student body are Haitian, and the other half are Cuban.
“It’s interesting. I never taught Cubans or Haitians,” she said. “I enjoy teaching. I understand everybody because I am in the same position. I go through the same processes as they do since I came only in December (2022). I can totally understand what they go through. At the same time, I also understand if they learn English now, it will save them so much trouble later.”
For Odaymis Silva, a Cuban immigrant, the certificate is one step closer to regaining her medical degree. The terrible economic situation in Cuba brought her to Orlando where she reunited with the rest of her family. She was the last of her relatives remaining on the island, so she made the long trip to the United States via Nicaragua, alone.
“I’m not stopping for anything,” she said. Her zeal reflects that of most immigrants learning English. Pierre hopes to study information systems. “I learned a lot that will be useful for the future.”
Nickson Util is a 32-year-old who also retreated from Haiti seeking a safe sanctuary from the volatile social and economic situation in his country. Sharing his joy at the end of class, he high fived and hugged friends he made along the path to learning a new language. Together they have formed a community, a new generation of immigrants working toward the American dream.