English learners honored

April 10, 2011
Author: Pamela Manson | The Salt Lake Tribune

West Valley City • India native Navjot Kaur hopes that improving her English skills will boost her employment opportunities.

Gabriela Dardón, who immigrated from Guatemala, has been taking English classes for two semesters at Granger High School. She said traveling and shopping are among the activities that are easier by knowing English.

“I need it, I like it,” Dardón said of the language of her adopted home.

The women were among the recipients honored April 5 at a West Valley City Council meeting with an English Achievement Award. A total of 92 immigrants who recently completed an English course were given the award; about two dozen attended the ceremony.

The award stems from the English Initiative, a project that encourages West Valley City residents to learn the language as a way to unify the community and make their lives better.

One by one, the immigrants stepped up to a microphone in City Council chambers and introduced themselves. Afterward, they posed for pictures, proudly holding their certificates.

Beatriz Parra isn’t stopping with mastering English. The native of Mexico is working toward a high-school degree and planning to go to college.

“I want to be a nurse,” she said.

Councilman Steve Buhler said English will help newcomers find work, assist their children with homework and seek health care and other services.

“To all who live here I would say the American dream includes integration into our neighborhoods, it includes educational opportunities for your children, it includes the right to work and be fairly compensated, it includes the right to worship the god of your choice in the manner that you please, and it includes the freedoms of travel and commerce,” Buhler said. “If this is your dream for your family, be assured this is our dream for you.”

West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder urged the group to continue polishing their skills and to encourage their friends to learn English.

“For all of you learning English and working hard to learn English, know tonight that your mayor is proud of you, that your City Council is proud of you,” he said.