Marie - 1951 Coffee Graduate Series

Marie - 1951 Coffee Graduate Series
person wearing a mask standing in front of flowers

I liked playing basketball a lot, it was great exercise. Now, it’s too hard for me to play. I always wanted to have a job in medicine, but I didn’t study medicine in college. 

I grew up in Bignona, Senegal. I enjoyed my math, philosophy, science, and English classes. I speak French, Woloft, Jola, Mandinka, and English. I had a job selling cosmetics and sewing clothes in Bignona. Beyond that, I don’t want to share about my life there, because it’s too painful to talk about. Even though I didn’t want to leave Bignona, I am happy here. 

I will say I miss the people back home, but the people here are nice. 

I heard about the Barista Training Program from Partnerships for Trauma Recovery. In class I really liked making the americano, hot chocolate, pourover, and espresso. I really like the smell of coffee too.

After graduating in January 2019, I got a job at a tofu packing company, which the Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay helped me get and Safeway, which 1951 Coffee helped me get. At the tofu packing company I was working on packaging, but then they moved me to products, which I physically wasn’t able to work on, so I left that job after some time. My job at Safeway was better - I cleaned, helped with products, and also packaged groceries. 

But when the pandemic started, I was unable to continue my jobs because I have been in and out of Highland Hospital, my second home.

American job is hard, Senegalese job is hard, every job is hard.

Now that I stay at home more, I continue to cook Senegalese dishes like thieboudienne and yassa. I listen to music by Youssou N’Dour and other Senegalese musicians, and I watch African films on Netflix. I’m trying to make the most of a difficult situation. 

I want to start a Certified Nursing Assistant program, so I can either work with children or older people in the hospital. I hope to be able to earn enough money so I can move out of my neighborhood in Oakland, because no matter what time of day I step out of my house, I am scared something bad will happen. 

I am in America now. I couldn’t study medicine back home, but now in my new home I hope to be accepted in the Certified Nursing Assistant Program. 

I hope after reading my story, you feel that asylees and refugees should be able to have assistance navigating the unexpected challenges of restarting their lives.