Student Spotlight: Van Thang Liana

Students at Office of Adult and Career Education Services’ (OACES) come from all over the world to learn English as a Second Language and to learn job skills in their Career & Technical Education (CTE) Program.  At beginning of 2020 Van Thang Liana started attending the OACES Culinary Program.


Van came to the United States with his wife, Lal, from Myanmar and spent some time in New York City but without family and friends nearby it was difficult to adjust to a new life and settle into their new life.  Van’s wife, Lal, made it clear that language skills do not stand in his way, “Van started at OACES in 2018 to learn English but had to take a break to take care of our children and support our family.  He started back this year and he is also at the culinary program.”


Coming to Rochester and attending OACES is allowing Van to experience many things that would not have been possible in Myanmar.  “In our home country, there is no school for adults.  If you do not finish school as a child there isn’t anything else.  It is hard to find new opportunities.”  Since March, when in-person classes were put on hold, Van has continued to take advantage of his schooling options and learning.  He has been attending distance learning classes with his instructors as well as watching videos online to keep going forward as he awaits a return to hands-on instruction in the kitchen OACES.


As a father of 2 young daughters, Van hopes to set an example that you can do anything you set your mind to and not to let anything hold you back from your dreams. Lal added that it takes more than just one person to make a dream happen, “One of our relatives here in Rochester helped us.  Now we help them.  We all help each other.” Even their daughter’s help out, their 4th grader reminds her parents of the correct English words and how to pronounce them, while being respectful of course.


Van has a dream and vision that he never had before his time in Rochester.  He is planning to open his own business, possibly a pizza shop. 


Van’s instructor nominated him for receiving a free Chromebook as part of our Technology in Hands program and when he and his wife received the call, they were ecstatic! “Thank you so much, we have never received anything free before, I don’t know what to say.”  Van’s hard work and dedications are seen by his family, his neighbors, and his instructors.  A Chromebook is only to help him continue his journey and be successful in reaching for 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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