"I was born in a small country, EI Salvador. After many years of oppression and social injustices in the '80s Salvadorian people rebelled against the government and a civil war took place. The people suffered atrociously from famine, illness, and poverty which swept the ravaged country.
"Hundreds of people, men, women, and children, were massacred, and many towns were pillaged and burned to the ground. It was chaos! Entire families abandoned their homes and their belongings and immigrated to different parts of the world, including the USA . My daughter, my husband, part of my family and I immigrated to the USA . We left EI Salvador and its war behind in order to save our lives and to have a free existence.
"Flying away I was crying so hard that I couldn't even look back to wave one final time. I wanted to go back, but the plane kept going up. I felt so helpless; I was flooded with thoughts and feelings about my daughter and the path our life was taking. The only hope was that there was a part of my family already living in this country and they were waiting for us.
"It has not been easy to be even here in this glorious place. California is not the Promised Land, but it is the place where our dreams would come true. There are so many wonderful things to see and do, sometimes it's very hard to know what not to see and do. Also, we meet fascinating characters that face exciting challenges. This country has a wide variety of languages, religions, social customs, and government. It's great to meet people from different parts of the world and know about their customs and their lives.
"But here is a very important thing that everybody who comes here has to grasp: learning English. It was the most valuable decision I had in mind. Going to school and studying English. In my country I was an elementary teacher and had studied one year of psychology. Therefore, I had the idea of the importance and the meaning of education.
"One day my sister Dora took me to the Venice Adult Learning Center , the place that has been very special for me. I found support, understanding, friendship and innumerable qualities there that every place where education is given should have. I was so glad to have this supportive environment because my home life was very difficult. At that time, I was living with lots of relatives and it was difficult to study. I also got a divorce and it was so hard for me manage with my young daughter and my two jobs. At the school, in addition to learning English, I felt happy because of the good atmosphere created by the teachers, staff, volunteers, and students. In spite of many obstacles and sacrifices, after seven years I received my high school diploma and passed the GED in 1988. A couple years later I got my office assistant diploma. I have greatly benefited from the enormous learning resources available at the adult schools and as an avid believer in education; I feel special gratitude for the second opportunity to succeed in doing something good for my family's future and the future of our descendants.
"I was so lucky to be chosen to work for LAUSD. To work at the same school where I felt so good and where I studied, was the best news that I had in many years. I felt so happy! I have found many times in my life that I have needed to rely on the kindness of others. Knowing and working among these wonderful people is so pleasant that occasionally I forget my fears and my shyness.
"The time goes by and I am still working for LAUSD as an Educational Aide for 19 years. My high school diploma allowed me to work in this District and has given me the chance to enhance the lives of my dear daughter, my three beloved grandchildren and my beautiful mother. My good brothers and sisters also benefited from this free education. My future plans are to become an Adult School Office Assistant. I thank God every day for the good opportunities, for my family, and for the all-wonderful people that I've have met in my life."