fbpx Skip to main content

We will be closed Monday, May 27th for Memorial Day. We will re-open on Tuesday, May 28th.




A Nurse’s Courage to Begin Again


Yolande spoke little English when she arrived from Cameroon earlier this year. Leaving behind everything she knew – her nursing degree, her friends and her family –  Yolande moved to Minnesota. She dreamed of a place where she could find stable work, support herself, learn to speak English, and give back to the community.

By word of mouth, Yolande found the International Institute of Minnesota (IIMN). She quickly signed up for a beginning, online English class three times per week. Soon, she added a conversation class.

“When I arrive here, I don’t talk in English – impossible,” Yolande says.

Nearly one year later, with the bravery required to start an entirely new life, Yolande has jumped two levels in her English class, completed Dietary Aide job training, and continues to show up to IIMN four days a week to practice English.

“The first time I came here, I say, ‘The people is very kind!”

“At the Institute, the teacher is very patient with the student,” she says, adding that she feels welcomed and safe here. “The teacher is professional. You see the teacher likes to give the lesson. So I like to come here.”


With help from individuals like you, Yolande can gain essential skills as she builds a life in Minnesota.

Yolande credits the Dietary Aide training as a turning point in her English comprehension, speaking and vocabulary building, all while learning about American menus and different kitchen items such as “bowl, cup of tea, and milk for coffee.”

Just as important as learning English, Yolande lights up when talking about her best friend – another new arrival she met in Dietary Aide training. The two women bonded quickly, helping each other to feel less lonely in a new country and encouraging each other to keep trying.

It’s a story repeated in classrooms throughout IIMN: friendships forming, support networks expanding, courage shared among new arrivals who understand the grit and determination it takes to start a new life, in a new language.

“We talk like people who know each other a very long time,” Yolande says about her new friend.

Proud to Support Herself

Recently, Yolande took the next step in building her life in Minnesota – starting a job. Though Yolande was a nurse in Cameroon, job opportunities were scarce.

For now, Yolande works the evening shift cleaning at a local hospital so she can attend English classes during the day. At least she is working in a hospital, Yolande says, adding that her job is her favorite part of her life right now.

“I have a new life,” Yolande says.

“I like America because America gives me the opportunity to work. It feels good to have a job.”

Her job is one Yolande applied for, interviewed for and earned with the help of an IIMN employment navigator who Yolande gushes with gratitude about.

Her new job also allows Yolande be self-reliant. While her older sister helped her financially at first, now Yolande covers her living expenses and the cost of her Minneapolis apartment on her own.

“Now I can pay by myself,” Yolande says proudly. “I think this month is the first time I pay by myself.”

Dreams of Nursing Again

One day, she plans to move up at the hospital where she now cleans. Though she has lived in Minnesota for less than a year, Yolande has a goal and a plan to achieve it.

She knows it will take time to build the English skills needed to earn her nursing degree again in the United States. Once she advances through IIMN’s next level of English, Yolande plans to enroll in IIMN’s Nursing Assistant Training program.

While the skills will be familiar to someone who has already worked as a nurse, learning the content in English will be entirely new. It’s a goal she keeps at the top of her mind.

“To start in a new place and a new life is very tired for me,” Yolande says. Yet, she knows she can do it with the support, encouragement and educational opportunities at the International Institute of Minnesota.

“I will take time for English because I need to improve,” Yolande says. “I want to become a nurse here. My first objective is to become a nurse.”

Together, we can help New Americans like Yolande get ahead. Please consider making a year-end gift today.