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Victoria  Sudan

It was hard to go to school full-time and to work full-time—and to do my homework. When I first started I didn't have time to do my homework and I couldn't get help because I went to school at 7:30AM and I left at 2:00PM. I didn't have time because I had to be to work by 2:30PM. So for the first year, I didn't have time to get help at school and I didn't have time to do my homework.

I work as a custodian. I have been working there now for three years. I work in Colchester, Mallets Bay, at the elementary school. I would go to Burlington High School and then when I was done school there in the afternoon, I would go to Colchester to work. I work there because my boss really cares about my school so much. And not everybody cares—few people care you know. He told me, "Victoria, I'm really proud of you being in school, and you really work so hard, and I know that you are so determined to be in school, and that's really great." But, it was so hard to work without a car. I would take the bus to Burlington High School, but I did not have transportation from Burlington High School to Colchester. Every day I had to figure out how to get to work. When I was in school I would always have to ask myself, "How am I going to get to work—I don't have a ride and I don't have anybody to pick me up?" Sometimes my friends would give me a ride, and sometimes I would have to take a Yellow Cab—it was $11.00 everyday from there to Colchester. So, that's how I got there—until now, I got my own car. I got my license and now I can drive myself.

When I was a senior, one of the teachers—she worked at the elementary school in Colchester—she asked me if I needed some help with my homework. Since I was having a hard time doing math, she asked me if she could help me at work during my break time. So, I talked to my boss—he is a really good person. He cares about refugees getting a good education because he knows that if you don't go to school you will have a hard time reading. I asked him and he said, "Yeah, it's okay. You can do your homework when you find someone to help you." The teacher who helped me was named, Susan. She helped me from 2006 until I graduated. She would get done with the elementary school at 3:00PM and then she would stay until 8:00PM waiting for me so she could help me do my homework.

Yeah, it was so hard to do my homework when I needed to work and I had to sleep. I would usually only get like 3-4 hours everyday until the school was over. I couldn't get enough sleep because I got out of work at 11:30PM, and then I had to come home, and I had stuff to do, and I had to finish the rest of my homework. I couldn't do all the homework together with Susan. We would do some, and then I would do some by myself when I got home.

I found out that it is important to go to school because most people here are educated. And we who are Africans, like the refugees, most of us are not in school. Most of us are not educated. Some of us—they can't even speak English. It's hard for someone to understand when you need help—or when you call someone, they don't understand when you can't speak English. I know it's hard to do both work and school, but there's no help—you have to do it. If you say you only have to work, you are not going to get an education. If you say you only have to go to school, you cannot survive because you can't afford to pay your rent. So, I decided to do both and I graduated this year. It was June 15, 2007. I am happy that I made it through and now I will be going to college.

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