Geovanny Vicente Romero is a graduate of the Carlos Rosario School’s ESL program. He started working as a paraeducator at the School in spring 2016. He wrote about his journey from being a government official in the Dominican Republic to working for fellow immigrants in Washington, D.C.
I moved to Washington, D.C. in June 2015, a few months after receiving an award from the Dominican Presidency and Ministry of Youth for my work in the Dominican government and at a local university. I had served as the Interim Director of the Dominican Civil Service, overseeing approximately 60,000 federal, provincial, and local government workers. Additionally, I participated in roundtables with the Organization of American States, University of Pennsylvania, and consulted for the University of Stanford and Princeton University on prison reforms and government innovation, respectively.
Why would I want to leave if everything was going well for me? To an outsider, I had a comfortable career with a positive growth trajectory. However, on the inside, I wanted to expand my horizons beyond the Dominican Republic and challenge myself to learn from the experience. Initially, the United States overwhelmed me, as I transitioned from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a vast ocean of opportunities. I took the risk of leaving behind a promising future to move from the capital city of my home country to the capital of the United States to fulfill a Dominican-American dream and gain new experiences that would enrich my ability to serve the community.
This journey hasn’t been easy, and I’ve learned so much about myself and the importance of an educational support network. When I arrived in Washington, I barely spoke any English and began studying for months on my own until a friend told me about the Carlos Rosario School. Shortly after I enrolled in ESL Level 8, and immediately improved my English skills and confidence level. For the first time since moving to the United States, I felt a strong sense of belonging and newfound responsibility to contribute to the community.
My peers elected me as a Student Government Representative at the school, and I continued developing my English and leadership skills through programs on voting rights, healthcare, and conservation with the National Council de la Raza, Washington, D.C. government, and the U.S. Congress. I also discovered new ways to express myself in writing, and became a finalist of the Carlos Rosario Black History Month essay contest.
I graduated from the school this past June. I see a bright future for myself in Washington, D.C., having been a featured writer for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and international news agencies such as Mexico’s El Universal, among others. Also I have found ways to continue teaching in my new home. Since the fall of 2015, I joined the Global Language Network (GLN) to share my Spanish language and Dominican culture as a Spanish teacher. In March I began volunteering as an assistant Spanish teacher, and, in April, I began working as an ESL para-educator at the Carlos Rosario School to give back to the school that has helped integrate me into the community.
I never thought I would be where I am today had it not been for the Carlos Rosario School. Thanks to their program, I have adapted to a new country and I want to inspire others who wish to do the same.