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 the fall. Their three younger children, ages 15, 12 and 8, are in Dakar, living with a trusted family member. Efforts to bring their remaining children to Vermont have been delayed by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Adji and her husband long for when the family can be reunited.
“I worked as a nurse in Senegal, in the hospital,” Adji said. “I graduated from high school and completed a four-year nursing program in Dakar. The course was very difficult. My class, we started as forty students and only four of us completed and passed the exam and practicum. The practicum was the hardest part––the doctors followed you and observed (e.g., as you were drawing blood from a patient). ”
After arriving in Vermont, Adji earned her Vermont Phlebotomy Certification, passing the written test and practicum. Adji works as a Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA)—with a temporary license as she prepares for the written exam—at an assisted living facility offering continuing care in Shelburne, Vermont.
“Julia (VAL ELL Teacher) helps me so much with my English,” Adji said. “She’s helping me to study for my LNA Exam. I am so grateful. I appreciate VAL’s programs.”
Adji genuinely enjoyed being a nurse in Senegal. Serving patients with professionalism and kindness brought her great job satisfaction. She said nurse salaries were very low in Senegal, prompting her to emigrate to the U.S. for enhanced earning potential and expanded educational opportunities for her children.
“My goal is to be a nurse in the United States,” Adji said. “I know it will be very hard, but I want to do this. I have to improve my English and VAL is helping me. I like working with patients, listening to them and helping them.”
Adji was limited in what she could carry with her on her journey to America. She brought a photograph of her deceased father. His name was Elhadj Beyti, a Wolof name.
“Everywhere I go, I have my father’s photo,” Adji said. “I love him.”
“Adji is a fantastic student; she is motivated and curious,” said Julia DiPietro, VAL ELL Teacher. “She has been working very hard to reach her goal of becoming a nurse in Vermont. In a short period of time, Adji’s English proficiency has increased substantially, due to her determination and focus. It’s been a pleasure to get to know Adji over the past year and a half!”