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Project Resilience: Reflections On Making A New Place Home

No matter what brings a family or an individual to a new country,  it can be difficult to make a new place home. New languages, traditions, and foods can be hard to adjust to. Missing loved ones and familiar places is painful. 

For this segment of Project Resilience, we meet a Logan family who has made the valley their home for more than a decade about how they adjusted to life in the United States.

Yamilet Soto is from Honduras and has lived in Logan with her family for over fourteen years. She and her husband, Samuel Soto, came to Cache Valley in 1994 so that he could earn a Ph.D. from Utah State University. Although the couple wanted to be here so that Yamilet’s husband could earn his degree, it was difficult to adjust to a new place.


“My husband had lived here before me and since he went to classes, that was his world, right? The biggest barrier was the language,” Yamilet said.


In an effort to improve her English, Yamilet asked her supervisor to assign her to a team made up of only native English speakers. She hoped that being out of her comfort zone would force her to speak only English. And it did. According to Yamilet, that helped her learn to speak English without needing to take a class. After Yamilet's husband finished his degree, the two returned to Honduras where they lived for eight years.


“Well, we came here the first time in 1994,” she said. “And we were living here for four years, while my husband was getting his doctorate at the state university. And then we returned to Honduras and we stayed for eight years, and after those eight years we returned here and we have already lived here for fourteen years. The second time we came I went to work at the Family Center in Providence. And we realized how many Latino people had come to this city. I mean, in eight years this place was filled with Hispanics."


As someone who has both been an immigrant herself and worked with immigrant families, Yamilet has advice for what can help people experiencing the same things to be resilient. 


The first is to learn the language. While there are many different ways to do this, community classes, like the free ones offered at the Cache Valley English Language Center, are one tool Yamilet recommended. And when it comes to learning the language, Yamilet said it is important to remember this is hard work. 


“Eh, first of all, the language, right? Try to learn the language as soon as possible,” she said. “And the second thing, to study. Study whatever, as long as you have a paper that says you graduated from something in this country because if not, what awaits most of us in the beginning, we have to be a worker for life.


One of Yamilet’s other recommendations for immigrants is to become a part of the community by doing things like joining diverse groups and sharing with others. And while it may be hard to accept and adapt to some of the things in a new place, Yamilet said in her experience, it has been worth it. 


“Well, trying to be part of this culture, because we came to this country to be part of this country and this system,” she said. “We cannot stay with the group of people from our own countries and have that be our world.”


Listen to the story in Spanish here: