51 farmworkers recognized for improving their English
3 students also earn American citizenship through program run by World Life Institute
WATERPORT – The World Life Institute and the Orleans/Niagara BOCES celebrated another successful year on Wednesday, when 51 farmworkers were presented certificates for improving their English.
Three of those students also became U.S. citizens after preparing through the test with staff at the World Life Institute.
“This is not a graduation,” said Linda Redfield, one of the English teachers at the WLI. “It’s a recognition. We’re recognizing your improvement in stages. We want you to come back on Monday. This is a year-round program.”
Redfield praised the students for their work improving their English. Some of the students also learn computer skills, civics and pottery, with the latter program run in partnership with the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.
The three new Americans all expressed their gratitude to the teachers at the World Life Institute.
Luis Garza, one of the new citizens, works as a supervisor at a local fruit farm. He spent two years getting ready for the citizenship test, working with Redfield and Cheryl Lieberman, who are both teachers in the program.
“These people help us a lot,” Garza said about the teachers.
He was driven to become an American citizen.
“It was important so I could stay here in this country and support my family,” Garza said.
Martin Rosario also is a new citizen. He said it was difficult to get ready for the citizenship test while he was working and raising a family. But like Garza, Rosario was determined to pass the exam.
“It is something for us we have to do to feel free in this country,” said Rosario of Albion.
Marisol Soto of Albion works at three local farms while raising three children. She thanked the teachers for supporting the students and helping them meet the standards in passing the test.
“This means a lot to us,” Soto said about becoming an American citizen. “It’s opening doors for us and giving us more opportunities.”
Susan Diemert, a BOCES literacy specialist, said the students in the programs would attend their classes often after a long day in the fields or at dairy farms.
“They’re doing it for their future and their children’s future,” Diemert said.
The World Life Institute works with students from Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, and the Philippines. There also students from Puerto Rico.