My church has a wonderful partnership with Park Elementary School, one of our downtown neighbors. We do lots of things for the school...send 35-40 tutor/mentors every week, help with special events, help the nurse, and generally do anything the principal or social worker requests.
Several years ago the church ladies began a ministry with the Moms from school that attend an Adult Literacy program. Originally funded through a grant, these women attend school 4 days a week. They spend part of the time in their own classroom with a bi-lingual teacher, and visit their children's classroom the rest of the time. For our program, we invite them to our church every month for a lunch and conversation!
I've been the co-chair for our monthly meetings for a couple years, and it is a joy! I often coordinate a craft activity - they love hands on projects. Below are some tasty gingerbread houses we managed to build, as we eagerly sampled the "building materials". That's my good friend and co-chair, Deb, on the right.
We made some teeny little bunnies for Easter. These little rabbits sure looked a lot bigger on the Martha Stewart craft page when I spotted them! The cute lady on the left, Gaby, is their teacher.
Usually the church ladies provide the food, but sometimes we get treated to some yummy Mexi-food. Below we worked together to make gorditas! We made about a thousand gorditas, stuffed them with assorted fillings the ladies brought, and ate them all. !Que rico!
So what's the point of all this? We provide a safe and inviting place for the ladies to practice their English and interact with English speakers. I enjoy decorating the tables, making pretty treats, and generally making the ladies feel special.
And...we LAUGH! We laugh when we struggle to communicate effectively, we laugh when we finally DO communicate, and we laugh at all the things women laugh at, no matter what the language. We'll all take the summer off and, thankfully, the funding is in place for the program to continue next fall.
And did I mention I enjoy practicing my limited Spanish skills? It's just irresistible to throw out the bits and pieces of Spanish that I know and watch their faces. I know lots of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives), but am not too skilled at that pesky grammar (think indirect object pronouns and subjunctive - ick). Whatever?!
!Tenga un buen verano, mujeres amables! (Have a good summer, sweet ladies!)