LIMA — As America becomes more diversified, barriers still exist for those who don’t speak English.
It’s something that holds back many from assimilating into society.
“I want to speak better English,” said Graciema Oen from Panama who works as an STNA at Otterbein-Cridersville. “I want to write better English. I want to be better and have a better job. The only way I can do it is if I’m coming to class.”
Oen and others from the ESOL classes met Monday night to celebrate Thanksgiving in a non-traditional way.
Instead of turkey, you might find a rice dish from Panama, rice with chicken from Puerto Rico or rice pudding from Mexico. Of course there was more traditional fare such as mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
“This is really for students to see that their hard work and everything comes together full circle,” said Karissa Cuffy, Apollo Aspire ESOL teacher. “It’s also a way for them to share their culture and their customs as well as their food with one another and with the teachers and the community.”
“Well, the biggest thing that we like to do is to just come together,” said Jodi Wireman, Apollo Aspire Coordinator. “We talked about what being thankful is about. We met and discussed what we were thankful for and a lot of them are just thankful that they’re able to be here in the United States and able to come to our class and learn more English and be able to come together as a community.”
Apollo has ESOL classes for adults in the morning and in the evening. More than 30 adults are enrolled in the classes at Apollo. The next session begins December 2 at Apollo. If you’re interested just show up for the start of the 9 a.m. or the 6 p.m. class. There is no cost for the program.
In Leipsic at the community center, there are also an orientation session that begins on December 3 at 9 a.m.
“They get a sense of community first of all, which has a certain comfort level,” said Diane Schoonover, an ESOL teacher. “I feel like that contributes to more freely talking without worry of mistakes. We focus on reading, writing, listening and speaking. So that’s our main focus and our community feeling helps them feel comfortable in order to practice by doing.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.