Carola was born in Santiago, the capital of Chile. Flanked by the Andes and the Chilean Coastal Range, Santiago hosts six million inhabitants within its urban core. By comparison, Vermont’s current population estimate hovers near 624,000.
Carola and her husband ran a shop selling baby clothes. They arrived in Vermont in November 2016 and were expecting a child. Carola spoke Spanish; her husband spoke Spanish and English.
“We left Santiago for many reasons,” Carola said. “We owned our own home but, sadly, one of our neighbors wasn’t a good neighbor. Respect really matters to my husband and me. We wanted our kids to grow up in a better place, a safer place with less violence. We wanted to feel more secure.”
Carola’s days are very full. She works full-time as a medical assistant, studies English at VAL, and recently completed two medical courses at the Stafford Technical Center. She also parents two children with her husband.
“It’s very important for me to be able to communicate clearly,” Carola said. “I hope to continue my studies in the United States and work in a lab. I like science and I found my phlebotomy class very exciting. I liked learning how blood can be separated into leukocytes and plasma. Our bodies are incredible!”
“The staff and volunteers are very helpful,” Carola said. “I like that I can make friends with women in my class, women from other countries in a similar position. It’s wonderful. I’m not the only one. VAL is a great place to start. It’s a whole new world.”
With all the changes and adaptations, there are things Carola misses from home. She longs for her family and friends in Chile. She laughed as she explained that Chileans are very warm and expressive, offering bountiful hugs and kisses. She also misses humitas, steamed fresh corn cakes, reminiscent of Mexican tamales. She stocks her pantry with aliño completo, a Latin spice mix containing paprika, pepper, coriander, cumin, fennel and salt. Her kitchen in her adoptive Vermont home is sure to carry aromas from the faraway Andes Mountains.
“I’m grateful for all the people I have met,” Carola said. “I have learned a lot from each of them.”