Learning English is an extremely important step for immigrants like Alioune. Not only does it help them adjust to life in their new home, but it opens up new possibilities for them professionally as well.
Determined to provide his children with a better education and quality of healthcare, Alioune and his family moved from Mauritania to the United States in 2011. He began his job at Whole Foods Columbus Circle 8 years ago and is currently working in the Prepared Foods department. Alioune’s favorite aspect of his current job are the friendly people he comes into contact with daily, both co-workers and customers.
From the beginning, Alioune recognized that the main thing holding him back in his new life in America was the language barrier. He says, “I tried going to school when I first came here, to pursue other things, but it was very hard without English. I struggled at Whole Foods too—I wasn’t able to communicate properly and I knew I couldn’t get a promotion this way.” Therefore, when he heard about the free classes that Whole Foods was offering its workforce, he decided to capitalize on the opportunity.
Alioune’s ambition and determination were evident. He was an active participant throughout and he maintained regular attendance in spite of the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he expressed a strong preference for taking a class online: “easier to get to, and don’t have the excuse that you don’t feel like going to class when the computer is in your house”. Alioune also enjoyed working on the digital modules outside of class and thought it was very helpful to have additional opportunities to practice and reinforce what he learned in class.
Although the English training ended, Alioune’s motivation did not stop there, he tells us, “This is absolutely not the last class I am going to take.” His goal is to acquire more vocabulary and improve his grammar, to be able to express himself better. With what he has learned, Alioune is already confident in his abilities to make changes in his life. “I’m applying for a promotion immediately after things settle down,” he says, referring to the complications the corona-virus has created.
Strengthening his English skills is not something that only Alioune himself is proud of—his whole family celebrates his initiative and the progress he’s made. “Sometimes during online class, my kids would come into the kitchen and say ‘Wow, Dad is at school!’ and I told them, ‘Yes, see—I am a student myself too!’” They are all excited to see what the future holds for him.