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Maribel: I feel so much better about my English now (9/6/2022) - Maribel’s story is a love story. The Bogota, Colombia native met her partner, a Vermonter, online and discovered a match worth pursuing. After he traveled to Colombia to meet Maribel, they became engaged and Maribel returned with her now-husband to Georgia, VT in 2019. Maribel was a professional massage therapist in Bogota but needed to obtain her certification in the US to continue this work. She took a job at WalMart to support her pursuit of the certification and became determined to enhance her proficiency in English. When asked what the biggest barriers were for her as a New American,…

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Xavier: I wasn’t a fan of school and now I love it (8/1/2022) -  “I wanted a future,” Xavier said.  “I wanted to get my life together.” Xavier, age, 23, has lived life with a few twists and turns.  He hasn’t always liked school .  He hasn’t always made the best choices in friends.  That said, his mother and his grandparents are powerful, stabilizing constants in his life. He is now a dedicated student at VAL, on route to graduating in June 2023. “My Mom is a huge influence on my life,” Xavier said.  “She’s my number one supporter, always in my corner.  I love my Mom a lot.  She’s always been there for…

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James: I am so happy to graduate from high school (7/28/2022) - James, 55, crossed the stage at VAL’s recent graduation ceremony on July 7th in Saint Albans.  James was born in Albany, New York, and arrived in Vermont when he was six weeks old. That said, his Green Mountain State roots run deep.   James, in pursuing studies to earn his high school diploma, dabbled in genealogy. He learned that he descends from author Jeffrey Brace (aka Boyereau Brinch). James’ ancestor, born in West Africa, c. 1742, was captured, and then sold by slave traders. He arrived in New Haven, Connecticut—by way of Barbados and servitude as an enslaved sailor in the…

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Meet Maureen: VAL opens the door to a world of possibility for our students (7/13/2022) - What are three things you want people to know about you? I’m a New Yorker.  No matter how much I love Vermont and the many other amazing places I’ve visited and lived throughout the years, New York City will always be my home.  It’s where I was born and raised, surrounded by a Polish-speaking grandmother, Irish red-haired Nana, loving parents and a younger sister.  My father worked at the Empire State Building and I had my piano recital at age 12 at Carnegie Hall! I’m a mother.  I love, love, love being a mom to the most incredible young woman…

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Meerim: I appreciate that here in the U.S. I am free (7/5/2022) - Meerim, 30, is an English Language Learning (ELL) student at VAL from Kyrgyzstan.  She speaks three languages:  Kyrgyz, Russian (Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet Republic) and is learning English. She was born near Issyk-Kul, home to the seventh-deepest lake in the world.  Issyk-Kul means “warm lake” in Kyrgyz, an apt name for a saline lake in the Northern Tian Shan Mountains that never freezes, despite severe winters! “I came to the United States because I wanted a better life,” Meerim said.  “I am a Muslim and I like to be independent and I can earn more money here,” Meerim said. …

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