Undocumented and Determined

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3. Listen to sections of the article by pressing the play buttons that appear before a set of words in the article below (coming soon).

Undocumented and Determined

Djamilah Lambert

Read the box below about TPS. Look up the list of countries. What do you know about what is happening in these countries?

As an undocumented immigrant, I face many challenges every day that documented people don’t understand. The hardest thing is waiting. I feel like my life is on hold while I try to get the documents I need to be here legally. It has been almost one year, and it seems like they keep adding more months to process my case. I tried to get a student visa so that I can go to college, but I did not get it. After that, my family opted for the Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

My parents decided that I should come to the U.S. for the security that unfortunately, my country cannot provide me. In Haiti, there is a lot of violence and kidnappings. People are living in fear. Our leaders do not focus on the real problems of the country: education insecurity, hunger, and unemployment, which is only increasing. The sacrifice that our ancestors made to give us freedom is tarnished.

The path to getting documents seems so long! And while I am waiting, I can’t fully participate in the opportunities that this country offers. I can’t get a job or go to college. I can’t even get my driver’s license.

It’s a terrible feeling—like I’m not really improving anything in my life. It is tiring. But somehow I find a way to make every day a better day by doing things that help me get closer to my goals. For example, I pray, I read, and I educate myself.

I don’t want to see only the bad side of waiting. Waiting teaches me patience. It gives me courage, strength, and determination. I have a great thirst to reach my goal to be a better version of myself. I can do that by learning every day, so one day I can help my family, my country, and other people. This is how I stay motivated.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
According to the American Immigration Council, TPS is a “temporary immigration status provided to nationals of specifically designated countries that are confronting an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Immigrants from which countries might receive TPS? Find a list here:
Source: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/temporary-protected-status-overview

What does the author mean when she says, “The sacrifice that our ancestors made to give us freedom is tarnished.” Share what you know about Haitian history to make sense of that quote. If you’re not sure, look it up online.

Djamilah Lambert is a student at The Welcome Project in Somerville, MA. She is 20 years old and comes from Haiti. She is learning English and starting to take violin classes.

Back to Issue 57

(A Fragrant Life of) Food, Poverty, and Immigration

(A Fragrant Life of) Food, Poverty, and Immigration

Anselmo B. Taborda

What does fragrant mean? Give some examples of fragrant foods you eat or products you use. Use fragrant (adjective) and fragrance (noun) in sentences.

A bowl of Senegalese soup called canja

A bowl of Senegalese soup called canja


Growing Up on One Meal a Day

When I was 12 years old, my father died. It was 1982. I miss him. In July of 1989, I stopped studying, so that I could work to help my mom. We didn’t have anything to eat. There was nothing on the table. I didn’t have any shoes. I had almost no clothes. I used to eat one time a day, usually rice and beans. We used our fingers to eat. Sometimes, I ate a Senegalese soup called canja, which has rice and a lot of other things like pork and oysters.

On June 7, 1998, a war started in Guinea-Bissau. Any war is bad. I remember the fighting. People died in the street. This memory is in my mind all the time. Thank God, I didn’t die, but my friends and family died. There were bombs. Nobody could help you, because everybody tried to go to a safe place, to save their own lives.

I worked for a pastor, who tried to help me move up in life. His name was Father José Enrique Marquéz. He was a good pastor. He sang. He wrote history books. He helped the community get food, and he ran a church choir for boys. He had a person working for him who showed me how to fix and paint houses and do plumbing and electricity. We used those skills to rebuild, to help the community, especially poor people. This work did not pay much.

New Foods in Dakar and Cape Verde

After the war was over, I went to Dakar, Senegal. Dakar is beautiful; I like Dakar. I had my first child there. That is where I tasted my first thieboudienne, a food they cook with different meats, like fish, and also yucca, carrots, and a type of radish.
Later, I traveled to Cape Verde to find work and have a better life. My job was in construction. In Cape Verde, I ate cachupa. There are two kinds of cachupa, “cachupa rico” (rich cachupa) and “cachupa pobre” (poor cachupa). The rich version has vegetables, pork, and beans. The poor version only has corn and some fried eggs. For flavor, they might add fried yuca.

Because I had work in Cape Verde, I was able to buy clothes. I usually wore blue and white, because those are the colors of my favorite soccer team in Portugal. I like that team because, when I was young, my father liked that team. We listened to the games on the radio together. Nobody back then had a television.
The first friends I made were at my job. They didn’t speak my language, Guinea-Bissau Creole. It is different from Cape Verdean Creole, but we could still understand each other. I also met people at church. They were from Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Ghana, Liberia, and Cape Verde.

French Fries and Fragrances in America

Trace Anselmo’s route. Find the approximate locations of Senegal, Cape Verde, and Rhode Island on this map.

A lot of my friends said, “Oh, you are a good worker. Try to get a visa to go to America.” In September of 2001, I got a visa to go to the U.S. I moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and I started a new life by working for a trash-removal and recycling company.
The first food I tasted in America was pizza. It was very good! It’s an easy-going food, because you call the pizza shop, and it’s ready five minutes later. That was new for me. My friend from work took me to MacDonald’s one Sunday. He showed me French fries and chicken nuggets. He said, “Now you’re American!”

Everybody in Africa has a different smell. But Americans try to help you make a new life. They bought me deodorant, shampoo, and nice cologne. Now I use Bleu de Chanel, which I keep at work. But when I go to church, I use a cologne called Coach. All these fragrances were new to me.

Author Anselmo Taborda

Author Anselmo Taborda

In the morning, I worked on the garbage truck, and at night, I cleaned schools, offices, and houses. I did these jobs for eight years. Then I started working at a pallet company. I got married and became a permanent resident. Then, after two years, I had an interview for my Green Card. When I got my Green Card, I looked for a good job. Now I work at the Plastics Group of America. It’s a good job.

Many People Have Helped Me

I miss a lot of things from home: food, hugs, and more. I especially miss the best food from Dakar, thieboudienne. But in my long journey, a lot of people have helped me. I want to say thank you to the people who helped me in my ESL class at the Pawtucket Library. I don’t want to stop learning. I want to keep doing everything I can to move up in my life. For almost 20 years, people have tried to help me. They taught me: this is good, this is not good. Thank you for helping me again and again.

Tell your life story using food or fragrances (or both) as the organizing principle. Use slideshow software to share your story. Add images and text.

Anselmo Taborda is from Guinea-Bissau. He is a tall man, a Black man. He is hard working, and he believes in God. He helps his friends at work, and his friends help him. He wants to learn more English and maybe get certified in computer systems. He is a student at the Institute for Labor Studies and Research (ILSR) at the Pawtucket Public Library in Rhode Island, and he is grateful to his teachers.

Back to Issue 56

The Present is Digital

headphones 3 WAYS TO LISTEN

1. Listen to the full article here.
2. Right-click here and “save as” to save an mp3 of the article to your computer.
3. Listen to sections of the article by pressing the play buttons that appear before a set of words in the article below (coming soon).

The Future Present is Digital

A New Law Makes Access More Equitable

Judy Mortrude

1. What does the title mean? Why is the word “future” crossed out?
2. List some of the interactions and processes in your life that are now digital.
3. Study this vocabulary: digital, equity, eligible

To Fully Participate, You Need to Be Connected

The pandemic has changed everything. You can visit your doctor online. You can receive your pandemic relief payments online. Your classes and your children’s classes happen online. And you are probably using more and more technology at your job. The present is digital. We all need access to high-speed internet, quality devices, and training in order to live, work, and learn in this connected world.

A new federal law—the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—will help people access low-cost but high-quality internet service. The law will also bring millions of dollars to states to build digital equity. Digital equity means that everyone in a community has the capacity to use information technology for “full participation in the society and economy of the United States.”

How do You Get Connected?

The new law creates the Affordable Connectivity Program. Once you register, the program can provide a discount of up to $30 per month for internet service for eligible households (and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.)

Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

A household is eligible if at least one person meets at least one of these criteria:

You can find out which internet providers in your area are providing this benefit and sign up at https://www.fcc.gov/acp.

How Can Your Program Help the State Build Digital Equity?

The new law also creates the Digital Equity State Plan process. In March 2022, each state will get money to create a plan to build digital equity across their state, and then each state will get more money to put that plan into action. A big focus of the work will be on certain community members, named in the law as “covered populations.” These priority groups include:

Anyone participating in adult education programs is a priority for digital equity work. It is critical that adult education state leaders get involved in the state digital equity planning, and that local programs make their needs known. Adult education programs might need funds for broadband access, devices for learners and staff, and for digital skill-building and digital navigation services. During the planning process, people will have the opportunity to participate in “public comment.” This is a great opportunity for civic engagement—for getting involved and having your voice heard.

What do you need?

As you think about the tools and skills you need for accessing health care, communicating with your children’s school, and getting ahead on the job, what is missing? How would having affordable, high-quality internet and devices for your household matter? What would it mean not only to have digital equity but to be digitally resilient— ready for the future?

1. If you were telling a friend about the Affordable Connectivity Program, what would you say? What are the key points you would want to communicate? Write a short script of what you would say and practice saying it.
2. As a class, discuss what adult learners need to gain digital equity. For example, does your program need access to broadband internet? Does your program need more funding for digital literacy classes and devices for students? Write down your ideas and share them with your program director.
3. What are some of the things in your life that are going digital—for example, keeping in touch with your child’s teacher, updating your timesheet at work, using GPS to find your way around? Which digital tools do you use with ease? Which ones do you need more practice with? How would digital equity help you be more digitally resilient?
4. Consider submitting your writing to The Change Agent. See our current Call for Articles here and in the next section of this magazine.

Make Your Voice Heard!
States will start making a digital equity plan in the spring of 2022.
1. Ask your program director about the state-level process for creating a plan to distribute funds from the Digital Equity Act. Or reach out to the director of adult education in your state. Ask how you can contribute comments verbally or in writing.
2. Compile your comments (alone or with your classmates). When the public comment period begins, share your comments.
3. Get published! Submit your writing to The Change Agent! See pp. 34 and 36 for more information.

Judy Mortrude is a Senior Technical Advisor at World Education, and she is the president of the National Coalition for Literacy.

Back to Issue 55