Student Spotlight: Soran Dawoodi

Meeting Soran and seeing his incredible joy and excitement was contagious. Soran came to Rochester in December of 2019 and he has had many firsts since then. He was shocked at the white winters here and said that seeing everything covered in snow was not what he expected.  He had to adjust to many things, and one was the cold weather. He is much happier now, to see all the greenery that Rochester has to offer in the warmer months.

As a young man, coming to a new country was a difficult adjustment. Soran, like many refugees, is learning how to navigate change and find a way to be successful in his new life.  Many native English speakers take for granted that as we go through our day, we are presented with information in our home language.  Refugees and immigrants are not always able to learn the language before they travel to the United States and that can make their journey much harder. Finding the right supports can make a big difference in their lives.

When Soran came to the United States he was hoping to be places with family who had already come and are living in Tennessee.  Unfortunately, there was not a place for him there, so he found himself in unfamiliar surroundings without a support system of family.  He did get connected with the Office of Adult Career and Education Services (OACES) which gave him opportunities he was looking for to find his way in this new place.

With increasing English language skills thanks to the teachers at OACES, Soran enrolled in the Automotive Technology Program that are also offered there. He is gaining the ability to do disassemble, repair, and rebuild automotive engines and brake systems.


“They are doing a good job, especially for refugees like me to have chances to try different fields and jobs.”

He is also gaining friendships with both his instructors and his classmates. Jim Kellman is one of the instructors that works with students like Soran to help them gain needed job skills as well as life skills.  Jim was so happy to share his admiration for his students and talked openly about the dedication and determination that comes from them.  Jim nominated Soran as a student that showed dedication to stay active and work through the difficulties of the facilities closing in mid-March of 2020. Soran, and many other students found ways to keep connected with their teachers and to learn in new ways through online videos, conference calls and distance-learning technology.

Soran is looking forward to getting back under the hood of a car and getting his hands dirty in the pursuit of his dreams.  

Digital Literacy, a program of Literacy Rochester, helps adults become fully engaged in their community as citizens, parents, consumers, and workers. The Digital Literacy program is provided free of charge on a one-to-one, drop-in basis in partnership with OACES at a variety of locations in and around Rochester.

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