Gratitude & Giving Back: The Connections that Create Opportunity 

This summer, we sat down with Intercambio students Julio and his daughter, Alenia. The conversation spoke volumes about the type of people they are. As they shared their own stories, Julio and Alenia spoke of the meaningful connections they have made since they started taking English classes with Intercambio and the ways they are working to give back to their community.  

Julio: “Julio is a simple name and person. I am a Cuban immigrant. I came with my daughter here four months ago.”  

Alenia: “I’m 20 years old, and I’m taking classes with Intercambio, and in Front Range [Community College]. But the first organization that we met was Intercambio. I feel great in Intercambio, and I think that here you have a big community that helps immigrants and all kinds of people.” 

Julio: “We are in the U.S. because two angels I took on a tour as a tour guide in Havana — their organization: Trees, Water, and People. When they returned to the U.S., we maintained a very good communication between us. When we felt that we can’t resist the [political] situation in Cuba, I called them. They said, ‘Whatever we can do for you, we will do it.’  

It has been a very incredible experience for us and for many people we know. Taking class in Intercambio is the best for us.  

[Alenia] is in love with her group there, and she doesn’t want to leave. She wants to continue, even when she is studying in the Front Range [Community College]. She wants to continue that, and I do too.”  

Alenia: “I’m so grateful for Intercambio. It’s so important because there you can meet other people and a new community. You learn that you are not alone. You have people that support you.  

I wanted to take classes at Intercambio because we will live here. To connect to other people, and for the future — to study, and after that, to work.” 

Julio: “To acquire a good job, or a better life, it is important to improve our English.”  

Alenia: “My teacher [at Intercambio] is Mercedes. I think this was her first time teaching. She doesn’t know how good she is. She’s amazing. I want to continue with her, with my group. They are fantastic.  

Mercedes is always encouraging all the students. I feel very good when she does that. She teach us, but we have conversations about our lives and other things. Even you can know about the stories about other immigrants. We speak about everything. I want more classes on more days of the week!  

These classes make my life more happy because we can share. And I feel that, of course, I improved my English, and I grew up. I’m growing up as a person. We have a lot of new opportunities with Intercambio.”  

Julio: “If I reach my goal to have better English, I will be there with [Intercambio] volunteering to do whatever. Even cleaning! Because it’s my mission, you know, wherever I go. I like people a lot. Maybe my life put me in this condition. 

Sometimes I do things for people that I don’t do for me, like volunteering at [Emergency Family Assistance Association]. I need to. Not, only to [receive] — I need to give. I want my children to be like this. It is not easy, but I think that it’s better to give.”  

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