“When I was a young boy in Guatemala, I played the drum and marched in the parade for our local fairs. I played the drum back then, because they were the least expensive (instrument) to own. Children with more money, from wealthier families could afford the fancy instruments,” said Andrés. “In America, I have been able to learn to play the guitar.”
Andrés comes from a big family back in Guatemala, he has so many cousins in Guatemala that there are simply “too many to remember.” His family immigrated to Nebraska, because they felt it to be a “peaceful and safe” environment; Andrés moved here to join them.
Andrés completed local school up to the sixth grade back in Guatemala and is able to read, write, and do math in Spanish. He can also speak a local dialect called “Kanjobal” that does not have a written component to it. When he first came to the Literacy Council four years ago, he said that he knew no English at all and now he is able to write in full sentences with minimal to no spelling errors, converse almost to the level of a native English speaker, and is able to follow directions given to him in English at JBS without confusion.
Since coming to America, Andrés, his brother, and his three sisters have formed a band. One of his goals is to learn how to play the guitar better and to sing in English as well as Spanish.
Currently, Andrés has only been able to find employment with the JBS Meat Packing Plant in Grand Island, but what he really wants is to one day be employed as a shop mechanic. He wants to work with his hands like he always has (he used to work on his family’s farm in Guatemala), but toiling on cars instead of toiling the earth.
“I’m very content with my life in Grand Island, but I hope to one day get my GED and special training to be a mechanic,” said Andrés. “For now, though, the Literacy Council is giving me the help I need.”