News & Blog: Learner Stories


Written by Jennifer Summers, Customized Workplace English Coordinator

When Larry and Coromoto visited the U.S. in 2017, they planned to stay for 15 days. However, the instability in their home country of Venezuela was worsening by the day, and their son, a doctor who had been practicing medicine here for 20 years, persuaded them to stay in Grand Rapids.

Larry is a pediatric neurologist, and Coromoto is a microbiologist. They were not able to begin working in their fields here in Michigan right away, and they realized they would benefit from strengthening their English skills and learning about their new city. They enrolled in English classes at the Literacy Center and steadily improved their English proficiency. They also learned about their new city by taking class field trips to places such as the Grand Rapids Public Library, a supermarket, a museum, and the medical mile.

When Coromoto graduated from the Literacy Center’s programming in March 2019, a professor at MSU’s College of Human Medicine invited her to work in his laboratory a few days a week. She was particularly pleased to receive feedback that she speaks English well, given that she could not understand much when she first arrived.

Larry continues to take classes at the Literacy Center. Through their time here, they feel more confident both in speaking English and in being able to navigate life in West Michigan. Coromoto tells people who come to the Literacy Center: “You are going to learn many things, not only about English, but about the history here, the places where people like to eat, and about people from different countries.”

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