My name is Glancy Rosales and I am originally from Guatemala. I was eleven years old when I migrated to the United States, partly because my parents thought we (myself, my brother and my older sister) would have better educational opportunities in this country. I was first enrolled at George Mason Elementary school, and my mom found that Community Lodgings’ after school program could help my brother and me learn English and do homework. When I went to George Washington Middle School I stayed in the Community Lodgings program until 7th grade, since the program did not have other activities for the older kids. But while I was at Community Lodgings, I learned the meaning of hard work, perseverance and gratefulness. The program helped me cope with the changes I was going through: new language, new country, new school system, “new parents”– new everything.
As I grew older, I began to appreciate the time and effort the coordinators and volunteers put into the program. I still remember Ms. Emily Barnes, one of the coordinators; she was one of the first people to believe in me. She encouraged me to work hard and believe in my potential. I also remember my favorite volunteer, Mr. George Ball. He was such a beloved man who was very patient and humorous. He was also one of the first people to teach me the English language. I would always look forward to working with him in the evenings after school. I used to get so excited when I learned something new, and all that thanks to him.
At the after school program we would receive snacks while sitting in a semi-circle and talk about our day. I would get so nervous because I had to speak in English to the whole group, but that eventually helped me practice my English skills. The coordinators partner us with a volunteer to help us with our homework. I always chose Mr. George. He was very tall, with a white beard (sort of like Santa Claus), with glasses, and an appealing personality. He always carried a book with him and whenever he waited for me to finish a short assignment, he would take it out and read. He also read it to me. There were other helpful volunteers, but I just liked Mr. George because he was funny. If I finished my homework early, we would play games or go outside.
Those moments in life were some of my favorites, because they helped me overcome the traumatic experience of coming to the U.S. They helped me learn the language quickly and properly. But I especially valued this time because I began to come up with goals for my future self. Now I am 23 and attending George Mason University, to become a school social worker. I am proud that I am the first to graduate from high school and attend a university in my family!
I am where I am now thanks to the wonderful effort and impact of amazing people who supported me growing up. Community Lodgings’ Youth Education Program and its magnificent staff was the program that first shaped my goals as a child.