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My Journey to America… by Elizabeth Walker

Liz1My journey to America started in Mascota, a small remote town in Mexico. I was the youngest of eight siblings and enjoyed learning from my older brothers and sisters. There was one subject that my brothers and sisters could not teach me, and that was English. Since I was a young child I wanted to learn the English language. As a little girl, my favorite playtime with my friends was pretending to speak English to each other. By the time I entered High School I was eager to take my first English class. Although I enjoyed each class, when I finished school I realized that I really had not learned to speak English as fluently as I wanted to. I could not hold a conversation with someone who spoke English and really didn’t know how to write the language either.

I attended a private college in Mexico and received my accounting diploma in 1992. In the same year one of my cousins came to Mexico from the United States. We had a wonderful time together and she was able to teach me a few English words. Once again I was inspired to pursue my dream of learning English. I began investigating the possibility of moving to the United States. After much research and convincing my family, I was allowed to come to the U.S.A. I was 17 years old when I arrived with a student visa.

Once arriving in LaGrange, Illinois, I was informed that I had to return to High School, even though I completed High School in Mexico. I clearly remembered the first day of school as I got out of the car and walked towards the main entrance door. I looked at the schedule I had in my hand and the first class was English. I hurried enthusiastically inside not wanting to be late. I was shocked- I could not find the class and could not communicate with anyone to direct me. Frustrated and scared, I somehow finally arrived to my class, but late. I remembered the discouraging thoughts and feelings. This part of my journey looked and felt impossible. I wondered what I had gotten my self into.

My first six months in the U.S.A. were extremely hard. I was late to my classes because I could never find them; I ate by myself during lunchtime; moreover, I had no friends at school and was very discouraged. I really wanted to go back home and forget all about it.

My family’s support and encouragement kept me on track and finally I decided to do something I had never done – listen. I stopped trying to always want to communicate and be understood. When I attended classes I was very aware of my decision to pay close attention and to listen even when I did not understand all that was said. I was not worried about being heard or understood. By the end of the year I was amazed at how much English I understood. I could even have small conversations with students and teachers. The following year was very different since now I joined school activities, and enjoyed a social life, which included both English & Spanish speaking friends. I could not believe that my dream was actually coming true.

While studying English I also held a part-time job at a community Hospital. In this position I was able to interact with peers, customers, and patients alike. While working at the hospital I met my wonderful husband Paul, who encouraged me to continue my English studies at a local college. After completing two more years of English a friend encouraged me to take a childcare course. She said that I was gifted with children and that children liked me. My interests turned to children and I pursued a position at one of the child care centers near my home. From the very first day I really enjoyed working with the children. I also had the privilege to work alongside and learn from one of the best teachers in the center. This teacher’s passion for children inspired me to pursue the further growth and development of my gifts.

While in school, and after completing my Associates in Early Childhood Education, I worked various positions within private, public, and government childcare programs. This experience was priceless in learning how to work with children and co-workers from all walks of life. I believe the experience I gained has also been an asset in being a parent.

While I attended school and worked on various childcare projects, Paul took special interest in my work. I believe he found the field to be inspirational and fascinating. We came to the same conclusion that our calling was to work with children. Paul then began plans for us to open a childcare business in our home. Our efforts were blessed as we were filled in no time with happy parents and children. We believe that our purpose is to provide quality and affordable care to both the private pay clients and those who have subsidy needs. Our goal is also to serve and provide programs for at risk Pre-K children through federal and state initiatives.

During our home based business, our local college, College of DuPage, videotaped Paul and I working together. The college made a marketing CD that targeted alternative careers for men and women titled, “Success has no Gender”. In this video clip I believe my husband said it best, “I know no other business where I can spend time with my wife and daughter and have fun playing with children”.

This is my “Journey”. As a born-again Christian, Mexican, and as an American Citizen, I am proud to serve and minister to families in this great country and support others to do the same.

PaulnLiz1Family1 Lizkids LizPrek