Reprinted with permission from the Marshall Independent and Thuy Leach – 3/8/08.

When Thuy Leach thinks of Minnesota's future, she believes she will be part of it.  But, Leach said, the opportunity to be a part of Minnesota's future was created in large part because of Marshall's Adult Basic Education program.

Leach recently spoke at the state Capitol in St. Paul in support of state money for ABE programs that teach English skills, computer skills and classes that teach about American culture and jobs skills classes like a certified nursing assistant program.  Leach said of why she agreed to be one seven speakers from across the state: “My fellow Minnesotans, the need for ABE programs is not just important but vital, to make sure that immigrants and refugees have a chance to become an important part of Minnesota's future.”  Leach said in her speech, “ABE can help every student get the same chance as me.”  Leach said, “ABE will give you the chance to learn so you can get a new career, start your job, a goodpaying job.”  Leach said, “I am an example to tell and share. To share my experience with ABE and the results it can bring to my life.”

Leach moved to America from Vietnam in 2006 along with her husband and two sons. She operates an agriculture export business that sells popcorn grown in Nebraska and sold in Vietnam.  “My business, since I came here, has grown by 150 percent,” Leach said. “The growing in part was due to the ABE program. I can understand the language better and understand how American business works.”  Leach had been a licensed teacher and nurse in Vietnam. She taught English classes to Vietnam students and taught Vietnamese to students who needed or wanted to learn the language.  Although she had more than a grasp of the English language, Leach said she needed more.  She wanted to learn more about the culture and improve her language skills.

Eventually, she learned about the ABE CNA class held in cooperation with Minnesota West Community and Technical Colleges.  She completed and passed the CNA test and
now works mornings at a congregate living site in Marshall. Leach also works at a nail salon.  ABE has helped in her business but also in her two jobs.  She now tells her friends and clients about ABE classes.  Leach wrote in her speech that ABE classes not only help in a student¹s work and individual lives, they also have an impact on the family and community.

ABE helps students advance in personal lives “such as positive self-esteem and the ability to help their children in school and in the community”  Leach said in her speech.

Leach and her family were motivated to move to America so the oldest son could attend college here.  He is a student at Southwest Minnesota State University.  The youngest is a student at Park Side Elementary in Marshall.  The couple recently bought a house in Marshall.  “I love Marshall. I¹m totally in love with Marshall,” Leach said.  “I don't like Minneapolis, it's so crowded. So many traffic jams, so many cars, it's too busy for me. Marshall is quiet. The schools are great to my children...”  The family will return to Vietnam to visit family and check on business clients but Leach said they will be part of Minnesota's future.  She's already thinking of attending college for her licensed practical nursing degree and of contacting SMSU about teaching Vietnamese language classes or exposing students to business opportunities and investment in