Humans of CIANA, Student Edition: Miriam Blas

When Miriam Blas first came to the United States from Mexico in 2007, she found herself having difficulty navigating her new environment. One of Miriam’s first priorities was to learn more about her new community in order to make life easier for herself and her four children.

Miriam enrolled in CIANA’s Civics classes in January 2020 to prepare for the citizenship test, which would open up a world of opportunities for her and her family. She hasn't taken the test yet but has enjoyed the experience in class so far. “All the teachers are very nice, helped me, and know the other people," Miriam explains. "It’s very nice. It’s their passion.”

Less than two months after Miriam began Civics class, the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes to move online. Virtual classes have been easier for Miriam's family. “It's better for me because I have a little boy, and I don’t have people to take care of him. It’s easier for me if it’s online.”

Like many of CIANA’s clients, Miriam saw that CIANA could provide services for her whole family. Despite all her children being born in the U.S., they struggled with English too, which in turn impacted their schoolwork. “The school has a problem with [their] English pronunciation. The children have problems with speech because the pronunciation is confusing.”

Miriam felt that CIANA’s After School Tutoring program would be able to help her then-eight-year-old improve his English and his academic performance overall.

During tutoring. Miriam's son was able to overcome the language barrier and improve his reading, writing, and speaking skills. He was also able to express his creativity; on the last day of tutoring, they had a special session where students showed what they learned. Miriam’s son played guitar, and her daughter, who is also in the program, showed a painting.

CIANA’s programming has helped ease the depression she and children felt at the beginning of the pandemic. While her children weren’t able to play outside with their friends, online tutoring helped fill that gap. In the summer, CIANA organized in-person gatherings for Virtual Summer Camp, which allowed Miriam and her kids to meet the other program participants in person. In addition, CIANA helped Miriam get vaccinated, bringing their family a step closer to going back to normal.

“Really, CIANA is great because it helped me with everything for the pandemic. They found the vaccine, helped with the online programs for my kids, and outside too because CIANA programs go to play outside two times a week. It’s nice that they know the people in person and it works for my kids.”