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Thankful to Try It All: Lidia’s English at Work Story

“I don’t know anything, but I can learn” says Lidia Garcia, a Bakery Manager at an Albertsons in California. Her story is one of progress and providence, and her can-do attitude and gratitude is immediately noticeable as she speaks about her work life and English learning experience.

She explains that getting her job at Albertsons was an instance of “what’s meant for you will be for you.” Working here for 17 years, she has encountered constant kindness and opportunities from customers, coworkers, and superiors alike. Even at the beginning with her limited English skills, she said she always felt encouraged to take on new roles and challenges.

Her English learning experience has so far been one of varied circumstances.

She was brought to the United States by her parents when she was 14, and as was the custom at the time, got straight to working. She was never able to attend school, and therefore, did not pick up on the language. Any English she has learned along the way has been gleaned mostly in her adulthood at work, such in the instance of a kindly older customer that would routinely come into the store and teach her a new word of English. Or, while sitting down with her kids to watch American children’s TV shows. Through her employer, Lidia was able to partake in the English at Work training offered through partnership with the Forum. This was her first formal English language learning experience, which she is deeply grateful for.

She explains that despite her initial doubt, attending the classes has benefitted her immensely; so much so that even the people she works with have noticed a difference! She feels so grateful for the freedom that knowing more English has given her since she needs it for various work-related responsibilities. She says, “your life changes when you learn the language – it brings you security to keep pushing ahead.” She is sometimes even asked to translate for others, and this has brought her immense pride and confidence.

The most useful part of the course for Lidia was learning how to speak English slowly, making use of intonation, pauses, and emphasis. She says this has helped customers understand her better.

An unintended benefit of attending this course has been the confidence Lidia has gained in working with technology. The course was completely online and pushed her to develop digital literacy skills. She can now work on the computer at work by herself without needing someone else to come by and assist her. She is also able to do any tasks in her personal life that involve a computer all by herself.

Lidia is one of the millions of often unrecognized heroes who worked throughout the pandemic to serve their communities. She is thankful for being able to work a lot of hours and fill in many different roles, eager to learn any and all tasks necessary to help keep the store running. Though sometimes stressful, she appreciated being able to have and keep a job in the midst of so much uncertainty.

Reflecting on her experience in the past couple of years, Lidia believes she came out of it with a deeper appreciation for life.

As it has already reaped benefits in her professional and personal life, Lidia knows that English at Work will continue to help her with her future career objectives at Albertsons. She will happily take on whatever new opportunities are offered to her. She extends thanks to her store director Mike Salinas for signing her up for these classes and her Albertsons family for always being so accommodating and generous towards her, for being a place where she can “convivir y compartir” (live alongside and share).

The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Betty Ruiz, Business Engagement and Inclusion Programs intern, for highlighting this story.

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