Volunteer Spotlight: James

Meet James, a dedicated WATCH volunteer and passionate member of Waltham’s immigrant community. His story is captivating, and in the telling he makes a compelling call for supporting the work that WATCH is engaged in.

I was 10 years old when I began selling cashews in Mozambique.  In order to survive and pay for my studies, I sold nuts, fruit, and seafood to tourists. At first I could only say the price. In eighth grade I began to study English and I was able to have conversations and build friendships with tourists and American Peace Corps volunteers.

Those relationships were key to my journey to the United States.  Years later, I have a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Endicott College, and I am applying for a work permit in the United States.  I live in Waltham and volunteer at WATCH teaching English to new immigrants.

Many people helped me along the way: tourists, Peace Corps volunteers, teachers at Endicott College.

I believe there is no self-made man.  Someone has helped each of us at some point to get where we are, and for that reason I am paying it forward by volunteering at WATCH.

Think about it.  Who helped you get to where you are today?  What special person inspired you, saw the potential in you, gave you the boost to be successful?  Will you remember that person today by donating to WATCH?

Donations enable WATCH to be the helping hand for so many in our community.  WATCH provides a supportive and encouraging environment for people to learn English, to receive assistance with housing, and to get to know their rights.

And our communities make it all possible!  To all those who have already donated, thank you for giving generously to sustain these essential services.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to get an education.  I am so grateful for the people and circumstances that made it possible for me. Now I am reaching out to other immigrants as I teach English at WATCH.  A thoughtful suggestion, a word of encouragement, a moment of laughter—those meant so much to me and this is what we offer our English learners at WATCH.

Let me tell you a little about our classes and approach. Our classes focus on reading, writing, and English conversation.  We use conversation starters about current events and interesting topics that get students excited about sharing their perspectives. We address the grammar and colloquialisms that are so confusing for immigrants (and even native speakers!) to understand.  We do all of this in the context of real-life situations, like going to the doctor, talking to a child’s teacher, or opening a bank account.

You will be pleased to know that this year, 200 immigrants made great progress in developing their written and verbal English skills.

They improved their English and their lives! Better jobs and higher incomes, better housing situations, new bank accounts, first library cards, and learner’s permits and driver’s licenses.  Even three new US citizens!  You can share in the joy of those accomplishments.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes of all time.  Jack Layton said, “My friends, love is better than anger.  Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.  And we will change the world.”

Your love, hope, and optimism are already changing the world!

                                                                                    Yours truly,

                                                                                    James Litsuri

P. S. I am aware of all the issues that all immigrants are going through, including myself. I encourage my fellow immigrants not to ever give up. I am also aware of the vital support that you can offer immigrants and WATCH.  I thank you for not giving up!  

If you were moved by James’ appeal, please consider donating to WATCH.