Immigrant stories: Yris Rodriguez

Published by Program Manager on

Immigrant stories: Yris Rodriguez

Originally from Venezuela, Yris Rodriguez came to the United States 6 years ago, more specifically, in September 2015.  During those years, Venezuela had been going through political changes that caused social and economic struggles for its citizens. Yris’s daughter had been living in the U.S. for a while and after finding out she was pregnant, asked her mother to come help her. Without hesitation, Yris left her homeland, family, lifelong friends and material belongings in order to provide the support her daughter needed at that time and to help take care of her grandchildren.

In the course of her time in the U.S., Yris has grown to love American culture.  She particularly appreciates the freedom of religion and expression that are valued in the U.S.  Having lived here now for several years, she has a new dream:  she wants to become a U.S. citizen as this will enable her to feel less of an outsider, and to be better integrated into American culture.

What is her favorite thing about the USA?  For Yris, it is the nation’s values. Living in a democratic country is something that Yris had always wished for. To show her extreme gratitude for everything this country has brought to her as well as the opportunities it has given her, she wants to become a U.S. citizen and to give back to the community.  To be able to do so and to become better integrated, she knew that learning English was the first step.  Yris began attending English classes offered in a small church in Katy, Texas, close to where her family lived.

Due to COVID-19, 2020 was a tough year for everyone, and this was also true for Yris and her family. In response to the pandemic, the company where Yris’s daughter was working shut down. As a result, Yris and her family moved from Katy to the Brazos Valley, leaving behind several sources of community, including the people Yris had met in her English classes. Determined that not even the pandemic was going to stop her from practicing English, Yris began her search for an English program as soon as they settled in College Station. She stumbled across the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network’s website and reached out right away. She started attending BIIN’s online Conversational English classes, and then discovered that BIIN also offered citizenship classes.  She then joined these classes also, and now spends several hours a week in pursuit of her goals of improving her English and becoming a U.S. citizen.

Yris is thankful not only for the classes but also for the many kindnesses that BIIN interns and volunteers have shown to her. As she put it, “I no longer fear going to a grocery store because thanks to BIIN, I’m able to understand and be confident in my knowledge.” As one of the interns who saw Yris week after week in the fall 2021 citizenship classes, I can genuinely say that hearing this made me smile:  I’m grateful to have people like Yris Rodriguez participate in our classes. It’s also gratifying to know that our hard work pays off and that we are truly helping people in the community.  Thank you, Yris, for joining us at BIIN and for making our community a better place!

Thanks also to Sandra Sanchez, fall 2021 citizenship intern, for writing this portrait of Yris Rodriguez.