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Learning Matters

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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Ryley: I’m determined to get ahead (6/23/2022) - “It’s easy to get by,” Ryley said.  "Anybody can get by, but it’s hard to get ahead.  I’m determined to get ahead.” Ryley, age 28, is a recent graduate of VAL’s Energy Works Weatherization Training.  She and her partner live with their children near Rutland, Vermont.  Adopted as a child, Ryley experienced some rough patches along the way.  She is committed to living her life and doing right by those she loves and who love her. “I graduated high school early and enrolled in the automotive program at Vermont Technical College (VTC).  I really enjoy cars,” Ryley said.  “We learned…

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Nicole: Living her values as a Weatherization Crew Member (6/16/2022) - Nicole, age 37, spent several years working in human services before deciding she wanted to build a career in weatherization.  She had managed farmers’ markets and advocated for EBT options so Vermonters experiencing low incomes could purchase fresh, local foods.  She organized a program that sent 120 volunteers into K-3 public school classrooms to help students develop literacy skills.  She also worked for mental health agencies.     “I was working and looking for a career change,” Nicole said.  “I’d been toggling between environmental sustainability and human services in my search for purpose-driven work.”   Weatherization was a long-simmering interest for…

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Adji: My goal is to be a nurse in the United States (6/8/2022) - Adji, aged 40, is a VAL English Language Learning (ELL) student who arrived in Vermont from Dakar, Senegal, on December 16, 2019.  She spoke three languages when she landed in the United States:  French, Wolof and Pulaar; she did not speak a word of English. Today, she speaks and understands English amazingly well for such a short period of time, particularly as an adult learner. Adji and her husband, also Senegalse, are proud parents of four children. The couple live in Vermont with their oldest son who will be a freshman at the University of Vermont School of Engineering in…

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Chris: If you haven’t completed your diploma, just do it! (6/2/2022) - Chris is an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to bring a quality product to the Vermont community:  Cannabis!  His encyclopedic knowledge of seed germination, growing, and harvesting best practices are complemented by a connoisseur's sense of the leafy green plant.  Chris also earned his high school diploma at VAL at age thirty-two. “For me, quality matters. Some medical grade cannabis smells like barn hay,” Chris said.  “The quality available to Vermonters right now isn’t what it should be.  People work hard for their money and I want to give them a quality product.” Chris describes himself as a “run of the…

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