I first met Maria in September in our multi-level ESL class. Not long after I had first met her, our class split into two levels and she moved on to the advanced level class; which meant I only got to see her during our class coffee break. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to meet with Maria one-one-one over coffee and interview her for this story.
Originally form Colombia, Maria Foushee has made Minneapolis her home. She had lived in a couple of different regions of the United States before she decided that south Minneapolis was where she wanted to begin the next phase or her life. Maria says she was looking for a warm, welcoming community where she could be actively involved and make positive connections. The Lyndale neighborhood has connected her with Lyndale’s La Posada event, the Toys for Tots drive, and Redeemer Health and Rehab (where she does volunteer work). Making positive connections is one reason Maria values LNA’s ESL program so much.
In December 2013, Alison Bey’s intermediate/advanced level ESL class welcomed a speaker from Project for Pride in Living. The PPL representative provided our ESL students with information about taking the next step in their professional lives and how PPL is dedicated to helping Twin Cities residents achieve self-sufficiency. This message strongly resonated with Maria.
As a certified psychologist, Maria has been looking for a way to positively affect her community. Her interest lies in helping immigrants to help themselves. “I love this phrase because it’s so important in life to be a successful, independent person. Getting the things you need by your hard work makes you appreciate the things you get because you are working very hard,” she says.
Immediately after listening to the PPL speaker, Maria followed up with them and inquired about their Human Services Pathways training program. She applied, was accepted and begins her 8 ½ month training in March. The program explores a variety of human services topics and includes a two week internship with Hennepin County.
Maria is grateful to LNA’s ESL program for providing positive connections with community resources. One of her aims is to continually advise and counsel second language speakers to get connected and be open to the community. “Don’t be afraid, LNA is here to help. Most of us feel shy to take that first step but you have to be brave. Now that you are here, it is important to get the things you need by hard work.” Maria is passionate about spreading the word about how important it is to reach out and help fellow community members to be successful and to be better human beings. “Life is about taking care of each other.”
To start with, Maria urges all second language speakers to take the first step by enrolling in an ESL class. She fondly reflects about her time in LNA’s ESL classes. “I cannot miss a class. This is my schedule. Due to the weather, because the weather was dangerous, the class was cancelled, but you miss the teacher, the students. You get used to this class and it becomes a family. We share food, respect cultures and the teachers are so fantastic, patient. They take time to teach us the proper English and they care.”
Even though Maria’s job readiness class with PPL begins in March, she says she’s not going anywhere just yet. “I will keep going. I cannot say goodbye. Not yet.” She chuckles as she averts her gaze through the coffee shop window and smiles a bitter-sweet smile.
About the Lyndale ESL Program
The Lyndale ESL program offers free English classes to adults.
- Classes are for all levels.
- Students can register in class on Mondays.
- Classes are free.
The class meets on Mondays, Tuesdays, & Thursdays from:
- 9:15 am – 11:45 pm at Wells Fargo, 3030 Nicollet Avenue – in the community room in the basement
- 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Zion Church, 128 West 33rd Street (33rd & Pillsbury)
- Childcare is offered during the evening class. Currently there is a waiting list. (children must be at least 2 years old)
For more information contact Erica at 612.824.9402 x 13