Sajida’s Story: From a Stranger to an Insider

During a student Panel at Har al-Hijrah Islamic Center, Sajida and her fellow classmates delivering a speech

Four years ago, Sajida left Afghanistan to come to the United States. “When I first got here, things were difficult….I didn’t know how to talk to my doctor, I was afraid to talk to my child’s teachers, and I was scared to get my driver’s license. However, to succeed at what I do is the most important thing in my life, and I don’t want to be stopped by the challenges.”

Last year, Sajida enrolled in our Intensive English Class, which met 16 hours a week. Designed for refugees transitioning to life in the United States and those who need a fast track to employment, advanced level learners from this course had a 97% pass rate on the nationally recognized Guest Service Gold© exam, giving them a credential and opportunities for new and better employment.

As LCNV pivoted to virtual learning this spring, we had the ability to aid learners in this confusing time to navigate resources in their communities, access information and support their children’s learning at home. We extended our semester and provided our summer courses to students at no cost. But it is our learners, whose care and compassion for their classmates and communities is truly remarkable. Sajida was one of those inspired to make a difference. Today, she volunteers as a class aide to help others who are learning English and she is employed by the City of Alexandria to promote essential health resources and information within her neighborhood during COVID-19.

For every newcomer to this country who does not speak English, Sajida has this advice: “First, I would tell them to learn English. Find a good place, like LCNV, and learn from the most beginning level. You will open yourself up to thousands of opportunities. Secondly, be brave – don’t let your difficulties defeat you, but seek help, and keep trying. Thirdly, pass on the kindness you receive to more people. LCNV is a place of inclusiveness and improvements, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this community.”

During this current time of uncertainties, your support to LCNV is more important than ever. It helps to cover the costs of study materials for our students, the summer classes which were offered to our students for free, and most importantly, it shows our learners care and support during these special times. If you would like to support our learners like Sajida, please consider volunteering with us or make a donation!