Teaching English to Refugees in Tucson: A Door to a New World | Local news


Counting money,
to chatter

In December 2017, after living in Hermosillo, Mexico for eight years, Cuban-born ballerina Lorena Carrión decided to emigrate with her two young children. Seeking a better future for her family, she became an asylum seeker by approaching Customs and Border Protection at the Nogales border.

“You have no idea what immigration can be like to the United States, even if you’ve immigrated (to another country) before,” Carrión explains.

While officials assessed her documents and began the asylum process, Lorena waited eight hours with her children in a holding cell. “They were talking to me in English and I didn’t know what to say,” she recalls. “I could see in their eyes what they were thinking: How can you come to a country without knowing the language? “

Because the Cuban case is considered special (as stated in the US refugee law), at the end of the day Carrión received a provisional document that allowed him to reside in the United States and also obtained a permit to job.

“The next day I started looking for help from the refugee offices and almost immediately I started studying English at REP,” she says.

Over the following months, thanks to her teacher, Clare Cox, Carrión learned essential skills such as counting American money and having basic conversations with other moms when she took her children to play in the park.


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