Chesterfield’s mom learns English from her job
MIDLOTHIAN, Virginia – Dayanna Vasquez runs the kitchen at Mediterranean Cafe Taziki on Stone Village Way in Chesterfield County.
Chesterfield’s mother was hired at the Midlothian restaurant four years ago as a preparatory cook, but has since been promoted to chef.
However, a few years ago simply talking to clients and colleagues was a challenge.
Vasquez left El Salvador for the United States seven years ago to escape violence in his homeland and give his family a better life.
“I love America and the opportunities we have here,” Vasquez explained.
Her bosses approached Vasquez with an opportunity to learn English and she jumped at the offer.
“They see talent in me and offer me to learn English,” recalls Vasquez. “It’s a gift because it doesn’t just help me in my job, but in my whole life.”
Taziki CEO Dan Simpson has partnered with a company called Voxy Engen which describes itself as a social enterprise that helps immigrant and refugee workers develop and apply essential language skills on the job.
“When you recognize the commonalities between all of us and realize how a little thing can have such a big impact. It’s gratifying, ”Simpson told CBS 6.
Simpson challenged and encouraged other business owners to do the same and help the refugees and immigrants who come to our country for a better life.
“That we all do our utmost to literally welcome them as they move in next to us as neighbors,” he said. “But also, in jobs and something as simple as encouragement, the language – learning the English language helps them get on the right track. These are simple things we can do.
Vasquez fits into her online English lessons between her work schedule while raising a 13-year-old girl.
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m so proud of you,'” she recalls. “And it makes me want more and to be better every day.”
Vasquez is now working to become the restaurant’s assistant manager.
She was one of ten employees learning English as part of the pilot program.
Taziki Mediterranean Café employs around 2,500 people and estimates that this program can help hundreds of their employees.