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Vania’s story: A Haitian asylee finds her voice

  July 1, 2022
Vania at home in the U.S.

In July 2020, Vania arrived in the U.S. from Haiti, fleeing from an unstable political situation and seeking to establish a better future for her two children, Nephtaine, 11, and Dahn, 8, whom she left in the care of her mother in Haiti.

Vania had a bachelor’s degree and was working as an accountant in Haiti. In the U.S., she had the skills and background to work as an accountant again, but the English language was a barrier. Vania knew some English, but wasn’t comfortable, as she says: “I remember when I came here, when I go to the supermarket, I couldn’t talk to anyone, I couldn’t find a word. They were in my thoughts, but I couldn’t explain myself.”

Finding English for Speakers of Other Languages classes

After searching, Vania found IINE’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. While she attended classes online because of the pandemic, there was still plenty of interaction that helped her to feel more connected. She enjoyed practicing English with her classmates: “We have to talk with the other students, and I love that.”

IINE staff also provided Vania with job skills support, helping her create a professional resume and prepare for interviews. With this support from IINE, Vania was able to secure a position as a tax preparer.

Looking toward the future

 Vania with her children in Haiti

Vania continues to improve her English skills by taking classes at IINE and feels much more confident.  She says, “Now I’m not afraid to talk with anyone! I do make some mistakes, you know, it’s not my language, but it’s very different from when I started.”

To Vania, her next steps are clear: improve her skills to secure a better paying job and bring her children to the U.S. to live with her. “I have two children, and I can’t stop thinking about them in my country, how things are going on,” she says. Her long term goal for the future is to start a business, perhaps a McDonald’s or Burger King franchise, and have her children start their new lives in the U.S.


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