I grew up in a Hutterite Community in Maple Creek, SK with a German dialect as my main speaking language. I learned English, but it was not encouraged. Learning to work was more emphasized than education. Mom was the head cook of the colony. With nine in our family, she was busy sewing, house cleaning, and my dad was just as busy. We just didn’t have a good elementary school teacher, and my parents had no say. At age fifteen you were considered an adult. My school was done, and I was expected to work with the ladies doing gardening, cooking, sewing, and a lot more different activities.
As naive as I was, I left home at age twenty by myself and in the dark, and moved to Lethbridge, AB. Yes, life was hard not having a good education. I had to work to pay my bills, rent, and food. I found a low paying job at $4.00 an hour at a pizza restaurant, and later on I worked at the Lethbridge Lodge starting wage was $6.50 an hour. I was barely meeting my needs, so I decided to go back to upgrade myself. I struggled a lot because the classes were too big and I couldn’t visualize when I was reading. Growing up and having no T.V. or magazines made it hard for me to comprehend. I had no problem doing Math, but when it came to doing a word problem, I just couldn’t understand the concepts of what I was reading. Deep in my heart, I needed to work on my reading before I could continue to finish my education.
At that time, I met my future husband, who lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We got married August 3, 1991, and moved to Portage La Prairie. We had two boys and one daughter, and I was a stay- at- home mom. My main goal was to make sure they learned how to read. On July 2001, my husband found a different job at the OSB plant in Minitonas, as an electrician. My younger boy was eight months old when we moved.
Little did I know that I would have a day care in my home! I stated up by taking care of one of the teacher’s children, and then word got out. While reading to my daycare children and my own children, my comprehension improved. I have to give praise to my daughter and my oldest son who encouraged me to start reading their level of middle year books. I started to have a love for reading. Last year in 2010, I made another big decision. I have decided to go back to school, and get my grade 12.
Going back to school was very difficult. I left behind some parents as their children’s daycare worker. This was upsetting to the parents and me. I had a meeting with the community, and they are in the process of getting a daycare to fill my space. My dreams are to work with little children once I finish my grade 12 in the public school system as an educator assistant.
Although it took much courage, coming to Swan River Adult Education Centre has been a joy. It seems what I learned from work experience makes my school easier. Best of all I enjoy reading much more, and can understand the concepts better. I will cherish my past and live for today. I have a dream that I can complete school and have a brighter future. For me, I see the possibility of a miracle.
Rosa Waldner, Swan River Adult Education Inc.
This story can be found in the spring/summer 2012 edition of Write On Magazine published by the Literacy Partners of Manitoba.