Immigrant Stories: Yesdel Benitez

Published by Program Manager on

Immigrant Stories: Yesdel Benitez

Yesdel Benitez was born in a small town called San Nicolas in Cuba, where most of his family resides today. Growing up, Yesdel had a normal childhood surrounded by family and with a growing love for soccer. Yesdel described how he decorated his room with Portugal team accessories, and Cristiano Ronaldo posters, who happens to be his favorite soccer player. Normally in Cuba, Yesdel would gather with friends and family to watch soccer. However, now he watches soccer in his free time after work. Yesdel works on a farm as a ranch hand tending to cows and necessities. Before arriving in the United States, he worked as a firefighter.

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Yesdel and his dog, Snow

In 2021, Yesdel arrived in Houston, Texas, under a visa, to join his wife. This was his first time in the United States. Stunned by the number of people and tall skyscrapers, Yesdel’s first impression of the United States left him amazed. Yesdel traveled to Bryan, Texas to settle down in his new home, however, he recalled he does not remember how the city looked due to the nighttime. After living in the United States for a year, Yesdel says he appreciates the friendly people in Texas and how amenities are widely available compared to Cuba. Yesdel explained how vulnerable he felt once he settled in the U.S., as he did not know English and had to create a support group. He often thought about his dog Snow, who he left behind in Cuba. Yesdel explained how after joining his local church, he created a support group. He said with this group he has created, he can now focus on building a life in the U.S., where he hopes to be a firefighter again in the future. He has voiced that, that is a big reason why he wants to become a fluent English speaker so he can try and go to school.

Yesdel volunteering at his church

In his free time after work, Yesdel attends church and volunteers as a cameraman filming church sessions. Apart from church, he said BIIN helped him connect with people. Yesdel first attended BIIN English classes via zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. However, he explained how it was difficult to attend sessions and learn over the computer. Now that classes are in-person, Yesdel appreciates connecting with other students and asking the teacher questions more often. He appreciates everyone at BIIN and would like to thank his teacher and the English class interns who made him feel welcome. Although he was hesitant to speak in class, he said the welcoming atmosphere helped encourage him to make conversation.

Thanks to Spring 2023 intern Alyssa Ramos for interviewing Yesdel and writing this profile of him.