Then and Now: Reflections of a former AVANCE student

maria guadalupe past

When she first arrived in the United States, pregnant with her son, Maria Guadalupe was having difficulty adjusting to a new life, a different culture, and a language that was not her own. Her husband’s relatives were nearby, but her own family was thousands of miles away. She had dreams of a career as a   nurse – as she had been in Mexico – but her limited English was a barrier.

“My life changed when I gave birth to my son,” she said of her child, Alex. “After feeling so isolated, I felt motivated to make a difference.”  Her emplo

yer gave her the number of a place that offered English as a Second Language (ESL), in addition to early childhood education. She discovered AVANCE-Austin. On the first day, she and Alex met many friends who shared similar experiences.

One of the most significant moments was learning to sew AVANCE’s signature Happy/Sad Pillow for Alex in the Educational Toy Making class. She described how her interactions changed with her son by encouraging him to express his emotions. “In Mexican culture, men are not allowed to cry. Through this toy, I was able to teach him vocabulary and ways to express his emotions.”

Since graduating with Alex in 2013, Maria Guadalupe volunteered with AVANCE for a year, joined Central Texas Literacy Coalition’smaria guadalupe present Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) program with her family, attended immigration classes, and has recently completed an ESL program at Austin Community College (ACC). Her next step is enrolling in ACC’s nursing program to move closer to her dream.

Maria Guadalupe’s life is very different than when she first moved to the United States. Alex will soon start Kindergarten and she is ready to support him and reinforce what he learns in school. “AVANCE helps so many parents and citizens, like myself,” she said. “The support does not go to waste.”