Episode Summary: I tell the inspiring story of a young girl who overcomes many obstacles in order to get an education.

English Level: B1 🇨🇦


This story begins in a small country in Central America. Guatemala in the 1960’s. It is here we meet a 12 year old girl named Lidia. Her father has made it clear that because she’s a girl, she doesn’t need any more education so she must now go and work for him in his textile shop. Her father is abusive, not just to her, but also to her brothers and mother. So much so, that one of her brothers runs away from home. She works long days for no pay. 

In the evenings, she sits with her mother and tells her, “mom, I want to go back to school.” “I know, honey. We’ll find a way.” Is all her mother can say.

Four years pass by and she’s still working in her father’s textile shop. She wants to earn her own money, so she gets a side job selling magazines and books on the street. Her father disapproves, but is ultimately convinced so long as she brings home 1 quetzal (which is about a dollar) each day.

She’s not very good at selling books at first, but she knows that this is her only way to free herself from her father. Failure is not an option.

One day her mother gets sick and her father blames her for it. He goes to beat her but Lidia runs away. She realizes that she needs to go to school if she wants to get out of her situation.

Little by little she saves up some money, and at the age of 19 she goes back to school. She enters grade 7 and is put in a class with 12 and 13 year-olds. One of the boys is attracted to her and professes his love. Her response, “I’m old enough to be your mother.”

She goes to school in the mornings, then quickly has lunch and goes out to sell books in the afternoon. In the evening, she studies and prepares for the next day’s lessons. By selling books she’s able to pay for her education and bring home enough money to give to her parents.

She graduates and gets a job as a receptionist at a mechanic shop. In the evenings, she goes to a technical school to become a secretary. Unfortunately, her country is in the middle of a war and there are riots on the streets near her school. Her school is closed so she waits restlessly for one year without being able to study. During this time, several of her friends leave the country to study abroad. She knows she can’t afford to do the same. She speaks with her mother about her frustrations. Her mother tells her, “honey, I can’t give you any money, but I know God will show you a way.”

One day, she runs into a family friend who asks her, “what are your plans for the future?” Lidia explains her desire to study but that it’s not possible because of the violence in the country. This friend mentions that she knows someone in Costa Rica that might be able to get her a job at a university there.

Lidia is ecstatic and runs home to tell her parents. Her father is against the idea because he relies on her income to support the family. He tells her, “you have no money to study in Costa Rica. All you’re going to do is accumulate debt and come running back to us in six months.”

Lidia listens as her father rants and determines in her heart she’s going to leave.  

A few weeks later, she gets on a bus to Costa Rica and never returns to her parent’s house. She gets an education, a job, gets married and gives birth to three boys. Alex, Jonathan and me, Jorge Alexander.

Show Notes:

  1. Story (0:37)
  2. Fearlessness (4:25)
  3. Determination (7:15)
  4. Faith (10:20)

Vocabulary Words:

  1. abusive (adj.): engaging in or characterized by habitual violence and cruelty.
  2. restless (adj.): unable to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom.
  3. accumulate (verb): gather together or acquire an increasing number or quantity of.
  4. debt (noun): a sum of money that is owed or due.
  5. rant (verb): speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way.
  6. admire (verb): regard with respect or warm approval.
  7. inferior (adj.): lower in rank, status, or quality.
  8. impressive (adj.): evoking admiration through size, quality, or skill; grand, imposing, or awesome.
  9. overcome (verb): succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).
  10. faith (noun): complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Phrases to Remember:

  1. run away: leave or escape from a place, person, or situation.
  2. to profess one’s love: admitting your love out in the open no matter how socially awkward it may be.
  3. to not care: without interest or concern.
  4. to face one’s fears: It involves gradually exposing someone to their fears.
  5. to be worth it: used to say that you gain something from an action.
  6. make one’s dreams come true: something you have wanted very much for a long time that has now happened
  7. patriarchal society: a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property.
  8. stand up to someone: make a spirited defence against someone or something.

Mistake to Avoid:

(infinitive after the verb ‘work hard’) work hard to build this business NOT work hard building this business.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. Where was Lidia born?
  2. What did Lidia do to earn extra money?
  3. Which country did Lidia move to?
  4. What did Lidia do when she visited Germany for the first time?
  5. What was Jorge afraid of when he first moved to Germany?
  6. What can we do to overcome our fears?
  7. What did Jorge do for money when he moved to Germany?
  8. How can we develop more determination?


Question to Consider:

What are the beliefs that most influence your decisions and behavior?


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My mom and I in Switzerland 2019

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