Learning the ways of America

By Nicoletta Sabella
March 30, 2006

Double tall, nonfat, no foam, extra hot, with whip, mocha latte. Lourdia turns away from the customer, grabs a cup and tries not to panic.

She takes the master drink manual and flips to the page that shows the directions to making a correct mocha.

She panics again.

For any barista, the first months of work are hard, memorizing the long list of how to make lattes, frappuccinos, americanos and macchiatos. It just takes getting used to the language of Starbucks.

Imagine trying to understand this language if only four years ago Creole was the predominate language in the country, and no one in the town ever stepped inside of a Starbucks before.

For Lourdia Tursack, this is how her life has changed.

When Lourdia was 16 years old, the Tursack family from Glenmoore, Pa., adopted her from her country, Haiti. Ever since then, she has been trying to reconstruct her new life from scratch.

“I had to learn everything,” Tursack said. Not only did she have to learn English and how to drive, but she had to learn how to talk with people she did not know. “I do not know how to talk to people or when I should talk to them. In my country, you can just talk to anyone. Sometimes I don’t know, so I just don’t talk. That’s one thing that I know that I will never be able to find here,” Tursack said.

Now Tursack is 20 years old, and she has found out how much she has to get used to. She is being home-schooled and is in her last year of high school. She feels that she is lucky to have the opportunity to come to America.

Haiti is a poor country where many do not have jobs. “Because there are not enough opportunities. If you find them, you cannot just say no. I am lucky. Most people consider me lucky. This doesn’t happen often,” Tursack said.

The country of Haiti has been under many different leaders over recent years. Presidents are elected, and the country is considered a presidential republic, but many feel that it is an authoritarian government.

There has been a constant change of presidents between Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Boniface Alexandre and Ren

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Nicoletta Sabella

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