Immigrant Stories: Bernardino Najera
Immigrant Stories: Bernardino Najera
Bernardino “Berna” Najera is from San Luis Potosi, Mexico where he worked in agriculture, growing onions and tomatoes in his garden. Bernardino completed an Agriculture degree at Universidad Autonoma De San Luis Potosi and is passionate about what he has learned. He is very eager to share his passion with the world. Back in his hometown, “Berna” was President of the State Committee Amaranth. His family is from Monterrey, and though he describes his life as “average… not great but not bad,” he loved traveling around his country with his kids whenever he had the chance.
Bernardino first came to the United States fifteen years ago when he was forty-nine years old. For thirteen years, he traveled between Chicago and Mexico, selling his onions to new markets and engaging in international business negotiations. His first recollection of the United States was that it was a “clean and just country,” and he felt comfortable because he had already built relationships with people here through business. This comfort is what later led him to settle in Bryan, TX in 2021.
Bernardino chose to settle in the Bryan/College Station area in July of 2021 after a family member’s recommendation. He took that recommendation and ran with it. Today, Bernardino works for a window factory. When it comes to his association with BIIN, it was through a co-worker that he learned of the English and citizenship opportunities at BIIN. Bernardino arrived at BIIN in January of 2023 to register for ESL classes, shortly after he asked to register for citizenship classes and completed the course. For the past five months, Bernardino has been an outstanding student eager to learn English and learn everything he needs to pass his naturalization interview. Currently, Bernardino hopes to pursue an education at Texas A&M once he is able to completely dominate his English. In his current English classes, under Farida Lakhani, he engages in conversational-based learning where they identify words they don’t understand and ask for corrections on their pronunciations. Though he initially felt like he wasn’t able to understand much, he always tried his best. All who work with Bernardino can confidently say that his comprehension and confidence has improved exponentially and continues to improve as he practices his conversational skills in and out of the classroom.
Aside from learning in class, Bernardino likes to have social events with all the other students at BIIN since it’s a place where people can be comfortable expressing themselves. It is a place where people make friends and build community. In his English class, level 4, they have gotten together as a group to have a tamale event in which students from Spain, Thailand, China, and many other countries unite to showcase a singular culture for the evening. This is also the case in citizenship class in which at the end of each term we have a potluck and everyone brings whatever they would like to share with the class. BIIN today has become the melting pot of the Bryan College Station area, and students such as Bernardino have found friends and community at BIIN.
Bernardino also practices his English skills in his citizenship class, where Jeremy Brett, our citizenship classes volunteer, goes through lectures and practice questions. Throughout the ten-week course, he has been able to learn all one hundred questions and is confident that he is ready to have his interview. Viviana and Christian, our Americorps member and intern, have helped prepare him for his exam by breaking into small groups that go in depth about questions that will be on the citizenship exam. He has continuously been an outstanding student, he is not just always eager to learn but always willing to help a fellow classmate. He has shown up prepared and ready to learn every Saturday, his dedication and eagerness to learn radiates through his personality and quality of work.
Bernardino is an avid learner. He loves studying literature, history, and politics. When he isn’t at BIIN’s English or citizenship classes, you can find him at museums such as The Museum of the American GI in Brazos County or reading the news. His favorite part about Bryan/College Station and BIIN is the cultural diversity, and he hopes to volunteer for the citizenship classes at BIIN sometime in the future as well as someday return to school and continue his education at Texas A&M University.
Thank you to our Spring 2023 interns, Christian and Chanwoo for interviewing and writing this story; and to Freddy and Viviana for editing.