Ethel from Rancho Cucamonga, California

This is a different love story, and it started when I landed in the United States. I am Brazilian. I came to Upland, California to learn English and to take a long (three months) vacation away from Brazil, after working 15 years as a cultural arts coordinator without a decent time off. I stayed with relatives and took some English classes at nearby Chaffey College, ESL classes in Ontario . My life was pretty much predictable at that time. My idea of vacation was spending time visiting touristy places and learning a couple of words or at least ask for directions.

I started walking around the city of at Upland to get familiar with it. One of those occasions I discovered a great place: the Upland Public Library. So I got my Library card, and with it in my hands, I became its number one fan. I was there almost seven days a week to study, to think, to relax, to use the Internet, to feel good, or just to be there. The first thing I noticed was the positive environment, and the wonderful people who work there. I don't know how to explain, but it was so comfortable being there, like enjoying a lifelong friendship. Yes, I fell in love with them.

Well, setting aside the romantic side of this story, I just had found a place to read and improve my knowledge about this new world, and at the same time, to feel at home, while being hundreds of miles away from home. One of those days, I came to the Library, as usual, and one of the librarians, Sandy Fraire, surprised me, asking if I wanted to be volunteer there. I hardly understood the question, because of my rough English. Okay, I, Brazilian on vacation, struggling with English, volunteering at the Library!? I thought there was something wrong in that scenario. Was she joking? No, she wasn't. She didn't know she was offering candy to a child. And. guess what? I unexpectedly answered "Yes!!! My inner self just knew something that I didn't then, because that was exactly the moment that the Library changed my Life.

Soon I started volunteering in the Children's Department, shelving books, helping with crafts, story times, etc., which I enjoyed a lot, and at the same time, I absorbed all the information that I could. Something was changing. I started to understand their English, and they did mine, or kind of. But it was not just about the language, a new and amazing world was just opening in front of me, and little by little, I began to realize the Library was giving me a lifetime opportunity. As time went by, I decided to extend my vacation and stay "just a little bit" more.

Month to month, the Library became most important part of my life. I had friends for conversations, to share my thoughts, to improve my English, and to help me understand the American culture. Meanwhile, my social life was improving as well, I was more confident in this new world. My family in Brazil couldn't understanding why I didn't go back yet. Of course I missed them a lot, but. I had the Library! Yes, I had that place and the people I could count on. And every time I mentioned the word "Library", it was my heart talking . I was living here and volunteering, as though I were part of the Upland's life already. Anyway, to conclude this story, five years have gone since the moment that a voice of an angel, disguised as a librarian asked me to be a volunteer. Since then, I got married, improved my English, became a permanent resident, and the most significant achievement in my life, a proud employee of Upland Public Library. I wrote in the beginning it was a different love story, and it is: Love for a Library and its people who have changed my life completely, forever. Ah! Now I have Brazil for my vacations !