Sahada Dirihe

Sahada Dirihe, LEX Student, Compelled to Strengthen English Skills After Moving from Somalia

In 2006, Sahada Dirihe and her partner left Somalia and moved to Canada to find a job and lasting peace. Arriving in Montreal, Canada, on a cold winter day, they were welcomed by smiling faces of family members and an onslaught of French, a new language for them.  After living in Montreal with family, Sahada Dirihe and her husband moved yet again, to Alberta to find work, and faced another new language, English.

Sahada also experienced some culture shock upon witnessing the cultural gender roles, as women, not only men, worked to support the family.  “In my country the lady is not working. It is responsible the men the working, the helping the children, family, support, everything. The ladies stay home and the children help you out. In Canada, it is the man and woman—all of them that do the work. It is different culture, different life.”  Despite cultural differences, Sahada Dirihe adjusted and began cleaning at a Ramada hotel, where she discovered pleasure in working outside the home considering the “life it provided.”

Sahada knew the language was necessary for not only work, but for asking questions or talking to cashiers—everyday tasks and living. She enrolled in English classes to learn how to write and expand her vocabulary.  She found a unique opportunity offered at CCI-LEX where continuous enrollment caters to the needs of working individuals like herself who have busy schedules. Students like Sahada can change their class schedule when needed and can learn at their own pace, advancing to the next level when their skills demonstrate proficiency. Studying in the LEX Program with volunteer instructors, she has studied in morning, afternoon, and evening classes, changing times as her work schedule changed.

“CCI-LEX helps me learn the English. I am new. I know very very well I need to speak English. The people in my class, for example, is a mixture of people, lots of character. Students from different worlds—Mexico, Somalia, Ethiopia, Europe.  It is very important to learn,” Sahada says.