Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last Night of Classes

Every quad I think, "This has to be my favorite group of students." I always feel sad saying "Farewell" because they are such a joy. Fortunately, I was able to move up a level with this group and had them for a complete semester. I am truly touched by the stories and goals my students share with me. Many come to school after working a full day of work and caring for family and some even come after a week of working two jobs. They are amazing people!

This semester I met Joy. She is a sign language interpreter. I LOVED getting to know her and wish she could be in my class all the time. I look forward to spending time with her outside of school.
That is my Sophia. She likes going to work with me on the last night of class!

Marcello and Marco. Marcello was the funny guy of the two. The first night of class when I was trying to learn names, he kept telling me his name was Miguel.

Lourdes and Maria. These two were the chatter boxes of the class -mostly to each other! For many students, coming to class is one of the few chances they have to relax and socialize. I did have to become "Mean Cathy" on a few occasions but they also worked hard and I appreciate that. I love that Lourdes' family practices their English at the dinner table.

Pablo is in class because he really wants to move up at work. He has a lot of experience and speaks English pretty well, but because of his reading/writing skills, he has watched too many less experienced co-workers pass him by.

Jose and Alberto. These two are fun! Jose is really shy but has an adorable smile and such good values. Alberto is very artistic and plays guitar for his church.

The last night of class is always reserved for a celebration potluck. Last night we had tons of food. Generous is definitely a characteristic of my students.

The gang - Elizabeth, Angel, Luis and Abraham. They always arrived to class together and if one was missing from class, they were all missing from class.

Isabel, Graciela, Maria, Gabriela, and Roberto. This summer I plan to meet for an informal conversation group with some of the woman from this group. Since funding was cut, there is not an ESL class available to them this summer. But, this group of woman want to continue practicing their English. So, we are planning on meeting at Panera a few Saturdays throughout the summer to just talk. I am looking forward to it.

Kanynat (Thailand) and Reina (Mexico) met at work and became quick friends. The other night they were looking through the college catalog and Kanynat told me they are planning on taking a class this summer so they don't get lazy over the summer. She said she wants Reina to take a restaurant management class so that when she and her husband open their Thai restaurant in a few years, Reina can be their manager. I love how people of different cultures come together to be such wonderful friends. Keep your fingers crossed that Reina finds a new job soon. She was laid off a few weeks back.

Sweet Maria. She works so hard. She is always a little late to class because she comes right from work. She is very shy. When I stop to listen to her group, she stops talking. I just give her shoulders a little pat and move on knowing she isn't quite ready for me to hear her yet.

Omar is holding up a picture of his wife on his phone. Lucia was also in class with us but was busy when I was taking pictures. I always enjoy having married couples in class together.

Narumon (Thailand) and Gabriela (Mexico) have been in the same classes for several levels and become good friends. Narumon is not only learning English, but also American Sign Language! Isn't that cool how people from different paths in life come together to enjoy each other so much?
If you don't mind, send some special thoughts to Gabriela. I really worry about her. She will be remaining in the same level in the fall due to missing several classes. She works in a cafeteria that has cut hours and she has taken on a second job at Quiznos to pay for car repairs and pay monthly bills. She works seven days a week. She comes to class looking exhausted. She wakes up at 4:30am and gets home at 10PM. Over the weekend she experienced a hit and run while she was at work. She is also struggling with several health issues. But, she always come to class with a beautiful smile.
My class list always varies in the countries being represented. This was my first time of having students from Thailand. They were both so excited to meet each other. Almost every class one or the other brought food for the other one. Since Narumon can't speak with Kanynat without an interpreter, they wrote back and forth to each other in Thai.

Over the years I have seen students come and go. Many try hard to complete the program but stop due to family responsibilities or changes in their work schedules. I have seen students repeat the same class over and over until they learn what they came to learn. Did I already say they are amazing? They really are.