Immigrant Stories: Leidy Lopez
Immigrant Stories: Leidy Lopez
Originally from Colombia, Leidy Lopez moved to the Bryan/College Station area in October 2018. She moved here after her husband came to earn a doctorate at Texas A&M University. Adjusting to life in Texas was challenging for Leidy, due both to culture shock and to the fact that she did not speak much English. Back in Colombia, Leidy had family, a job she adored working in human resources, and the streets were filled with music and friendly faces. In the U.S. Leidy found it intimidating to see news reports of immigrants focused on the sad reality of the racism and mistreatment they face. It was hard for her to imagine how she could connect with people if they were likely to make assumptions about her, or to dismiss her efforts to speak English. For much of their first year in Texas, Leidy was afraid to leave the apartment that she, her husband, and their dog share.
While being away from her family, friends, and life in Colombia and making this transition was hard at first, Leidy has gradually found a community in Bryan/College Station and is building a new life for herself in the U.S. In late 2019, Leidy received a letter inviting her to check out the Discovery program offered by the First Baptist Church in College Station. This program hosts a group of international women who gather regularly to practice their English, cook, socialize, and volunteer. She has really enjoyed meeting with this group as they come together to support each other, despite their different backgrounds.
To continue growing her community and skills in speaking English, in early 2020 Leidy started attending the Conversational English classes offered by BIIN. It took Leidy two bus rides and a twenty minute walk to reach the BIIN building to attend the in-person classes, but that didn’t deter her. She fondly recalls being welcomed by long-time lead teacher, Susan Dennis. The friendliness and patience that volunteers showed to adult learners made Leidy feel more comfortable learning and practicing English. As someone who had always loved to serve and help those around her, it was a change in roles for Leidy but also wonderful to find an organization full of selfless volunteers dedicated to supporting her as she strives to achieve her goals.
Leidy is learning English to be more independent when going out on her own, like to the store or the doctor’s office. She hopes one day to have children, and plans to teach them both English and Spanish. To help sharpen her communication skills, in her free time Leidy likes to read books in English. A devout Christian, Leidy enjoys reading books with religious themes both to inspire herself and to improve her English.
Leidy is very thankful for all of the volunteers and community at BIIN who have helped her on her journey to learn English and feel at home in the U.S. While this pandemic has made connecting with others challenging, Leidy is grateful for the virtual classes and the generosity she has been shown by BIIN volunteers.