Expanding Opportunity for Immigrants

In our constant pursuit of equity and opportunity for all people, Heartland Alliance is always looking for innovative ways to help the people we serve. We don’t rely on “the way it’s always been” in our programming, especially in today’s ever-changing economic and political landscape. When we see a chance for people to thrive, we take it.

That is exactly what our RICS Belmont ESL program did this past summer. With three new professional courses at our ESL training offices, we have begun to train participants for emerging opportunities in the medical, IT, and childcare fields.

For young people like Vlad, these new trainings have been invaluable. Originally from the Ukraine, Vlad has noticed vast differences between Ukranian and English – both in what you say and how you say it. According to him, these differences can make a world of difference when working with others.

“In the Ukraine, conversation is shorter. It’s not as polite, more straightforward. I’ve learned to be nicer in conversation in English, because it makes it easier to connect.”

Vlad is a recent graduate of our Advanced Information Technology course, which trains students on high-skilled computer programs. This is a steep hill to climb, especially for individuals building their English language skills Nevertheless, Vlad has excelled. He’s excited to combine his new language skills with his IT certificate, and find work for a company that allows him to connect others.

“My dream job is to help people, to transform them. I’ve found a niche in my life, and I think I’d like to help others do that.”

RICS Belmont services are for the entire community. For newly arrived immigrants and those who have been in the United States for many years, for individuals who need help learning English, and for people who want to help. Gabriella has been a resident of the Belmont Cragin neighborhood her whole life. A recent graduate of our medical interpreting course, her experience has been nothing short of transformational.

“I’ve learned so much. Medical interpreting is so much more than you think. In the medical field, you have to be very specific with how you are translating things – and can make a huge difference for the people you serve.”

Gabriella never even knew of the longtime community and education center in her own neighborhood until just this summer. Within just a few months of classes, she is now gainfully employed as a translator – and ready to help her neighbors and coworkers obtain the skills they need to succeed.

“Most of my neighbors are Hispanic, and knowing the situation now – I want my neighbors to know that they will benefit from this program. Go for it, take it. This is free, and the opportunities are great.”

Opportunity for all people is part of our core mission at Heartland Alliance. Whether that is helping new immigrants connect through a new language, or helping life-long Chicagoans find work – we are dedicated to providing the tools necessary to thrive.

“I’m very grateful for Heartland Alliance. I’ve found a career here. I’ve found new people. I’ve found a way to help people,” said Gabriella. “Heartland Alliance has helped me a lot in a very short amount of time.”