CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is written by CBS4’s Andrea Flores.
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Boulder County nonprofit is tearing down walls, and building bridges, for Colorado’s immigrant population.
Many students in Boulder are going back to school, but not for a GED, high school, or college diploma. They’re part of Intercambio Uniting Communities, a nonprofit offering English and U.S. citizenship classes to Colorado’s immigrant population.
“You might have people from 10 different countries in one class,” said Executive Director Lee Shainis. “The biggest population we serve are people from Latin America. We also have a big Nepalese population, a lot of folks from Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”
Roxana Cordova is from El Salvador and started taking English classes eight years ago.
“We didn’t know anybody; we didn’t speak the language,” said Cordova.
Today, Cordova successfully runs her own cleaning business, thanks to Intercambio.
“Now that I can communicate better with people, that has opened a lot of doors,” Cordova said. “Before when I wasn’t talking English, I was blind.”
Mexican immigrant Virginia Yanez also runs her own catering company, but admits learning English wasn’t as easy as Americans may think.
“The hardest part is in the beginning,” Yanez said.
Despite some setbacks, both women agree that the best part of living in the United States is being able to see their children follow their dreams.
Yanezes’ three children proudly serve in the United States military.
“They feel like this is their country, they love this country,” Yanez said.
Roxana’s daughter, Sally, has a scholarship to a Boulder school for gifted students.
“I can talk with her teacher, and with everybody at school,” Cordova said. “Now I can understand what she’s saying.”
While the road to the American dream hasn’t always been easy, the students say thanks to Intercambio, Colorado finally feels like home.
“They make me feel like family,” Yanez said.
Intercambio is a volunteer organization and is always looking for people willing to make a difference in the lives of immigrant students.