Silvia is the mother of three teenagers and was desperate to learn more English so that she could communicate better with her children's teachers. She is an intermediate speaker, and her English has improved steadily over her time with Bunny. When Bunny and Silvia have class they often run into friends of Bunny's. Silvia enjoys meeting them and attending community events with Bunny and her husband. Bunny is a longtime Aspen resident and is actively involved in the local arts community. Silvia works at a local hotel and moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 2004.
When Emelia was asked what she has gained from having a tutor, she said: The first word that comes to my mind is confidence. Now I am not afraid to talk to people. When I ask for a job, I no longer worry that I am going to be lost when they start talking. I feel more comfortable asking for the salary that I need. Before I would just say 'okay' to whatever they said. Lara is the executive director of English In Action and is a native Coloradoan. Emelia moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997 and is an advanced English speaker. She works as a housekeeper and as a plumbing and heating system repair assistant.
When Susy and Citlali first met, Citlali gave Susy a big hug. Although Citlali was a high beginner, she didn't have the words to tell Susy how much she appreciated having a tutor. Citlali asked her son to translate for her and explained in detail how important it is to her to learn more English and how grateful she is that God has given her this opportunity. She also said that she will do her best to study hard and take advantage of all Susy has to offer. Citlali's son turned to Susy and shortened his mother's soliloquy to "she thanks God and she won't mess up." Susy is a high school teacher and lives in Carbondale. Citlali was born in Mexico and arrived in the Valley in 2006.
It was love at first sight. Victor and Mike quickly became fast friends in the process of learning English. Their laughter echoes through the English In Action office whenever they meet. Mike once said, "I would tutor Victor every day, if I could." Mike is a trial lawyer who recently moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Cleveland, Ohio. Victor was born in El Salvador and has lived in the U.S. since 2011. He currently works in a restaurant in Aspen and is a beginning English speaker.
Veronica and Lynn frequently tell us how much they enjoy their friendship. Although Veronica works long hours as a housekeeper, she makes time for English classes with Lynn once a week. Learning more English has helped Veronica take on more work and earn a higher wage. Once when Veronica's niece was hurt, she had to call 911. She was relieved that she could communicate with the operator in English and that language did not become a barrier for getting help for her loved one. Lynn is retired and a longtime Aspen resident and community leader. Veronica came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2002.
Estela was a dentist in Mexico. Since she moved to the U.S. in 2006 she has worked as a stay-at-home mom and a housekeeper. She has dedicated her time to improving her English and academic skills so that she can return to her profession in the U.S. When Estela started studying with Polly she only had survival English, but last semester her English was strong enough to take a medical terminology class. Estella is a dedicated community volunteer, helping out in the schools, with Eagle County Head Start and with English In Action. Polly is a longtime resident of the Valley and has been a tutor for English In Action since 1995.
Janet and Blanca dedicated their first year together to helping Blanca pass her citizenship exam. Blanca passed with flying colors in February 2011! They continue to meet weekly to work on Blanca's pronunciation and writing skills. Blanca tells us that she loves meeting with Janet and wouldn't miss her classes for the world. Janet is a retired Woody Creek resident. Blanca is from El Salvador and has lived in the Valley since 1989.
Joy was nervous about becoming a tutor. However, she was relieved when she heard that Isidora was looking for a tutor with a lot of patience. "After 22 years of driving a school bus," Joy says, "I've developed a lot of patience." Joy was honored to be asked by Isidora to help her study for her U.S. citizenship test. "We really have a lot of fun together," says Joy. Isidora has lived in the U.S. since 1998. She is a seamstress at a hotel in Aspen and is a high beginner in English. Joy is a long time resident of the Valley.
Milton and Diana are a married couple who wanted to learn English together. Both were beginners when they started—although Milton spoke more English than Diana. Their tutor, Claudia, is from Miami where she was a school teacher. Claudia grew up speaking Spanish and had a great deal to offer Milton and Diana. Diana only had a second grade education in their native El Salvador. She tells Claudia that she is learning how to read, write and speak better in both Spanish and English. Milton and Diana moved to the Valley in 2006.
Barbara and Nohemi spend their classes diligently studying English vocabulary and grammar. The results of their hard work are evident. When she started, Nohemi's English skills were minimal, but she is now able to understand basic survival English and everyday communication. Although Nohemi works two jobs—at a hotel and at a fast food restaurant—she attends classes regularly. She is gaining confidence and is less shy. Barbara is a retired teacher of the deaf and moved to the Valley from Georgia several years ago. Nohemi moved to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2006.
After her first year of tutoring, Shinta wrote Kim the following note on her birthday: From you, I learn about many things. American culture, Jewish culture, ethical culture, peace, medical lessons of course, how to be a good person, how to be a teacher, and how to be a good mother too. You wake me up from my long sleep. You inspired me to reach my dream, to do many things that I never thought of. Kim is a physician, who works in Aspen and Basalt, and has supported Shinta through her second pregnancy. Shinta was a civil engineer in Indonesia and has lived in the U.S. since 2006. Her English became strong enough that she was hired as English In Action's administrative assistant two years ago.
Lauro has learned to speak English well since he moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 2000, but he wants to improve his reading and writing. He also wants to communicate better with his daughters who only speak English. When Pat and Lauro first met, they were uncertain how to get started studying English. Pat decided to show Lauro the websites he runs through his company. Lauro was fascinated, and they spent the rest of the class discussing digital marketing. Pat is a longtime Carbondale resident.
Despite their busy lives, Aranzazu and Lynne are dedicated to studying English on a weekly basis. Aranzazu says, "This means a great deal to me because I feel confident communicating with everyone—my employers, my son's teachers and doctors, and business people." Lynne has also gotten a lot out of the experience: "Through Aranzazu, I have had the chance to learn firsthand about the immigrant experience." Lynne is a psychotherapist who moved to the Valley two years ago from New York City. Aranzazu is a housekeeper who moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 2000.
Susan became a tutor because she has traveled a lot and knows what it is like to be in an unfamiliar place. Emira and Susan always have a lot to talk about when they are together. Emira is a beginner, but is getting more comfortable with her conversation skills. Susan has not only helped Emira with her English skills, she has also helped her to negotiate the challenges of living in a new country with different traditions and laws. Susan is a local real estate agent. Emira is from Mexico and works in housekeeping.
Gaye and Esperanza have spent more than 250 hours together working on Esperanza's English. Gaye writes, "I look forward to seeing Esperanza each week and am proud of her accomplishments. Sometimes our best 'lessons' are the days when we just sit and talk." Esperanza tells us that she deeply appreciates the opportunity to have a friend in the English-speaking community. Gaye is a Basalt resident. Esperanza moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1998. She is a nanny and has worked hard over the years to improve her English.
Guadalupe's dream is to pass the GED. She is a self-directed learner and comes to each class with homework that she would like Janet to help her with. At 83, Janet has had to brush up on her high school math skills. She is continually impressed with how hard Guadalupe studies. Guadalupe moved to the Valley from Mexico since 2002. Janet has lived in Woody Creek off and on since the 60's.
Ignacio and Bruce are a special pair. Ignacio lost his sight to glaucoma more than a dozen years ago. His disability and limited English skills have been a significant obstacle. Bruce—who works in construction—picks Ignacio up at his trailer in Basalt for their lessons. Ignacio appreciates the opportunity to get out of the house, and Bruce enjoys his meetings with Ignacio. Ignacio's English has steadily improved, and he has been helping Bruce to learn more Spanish. Ignacio is from Mexico and has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
Vanessa moved to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2010. She was an accountant in her home country and dreams of getting a job in her field here. She currently works as a nanny. Polly is now helping Vanessa study for a college placement test, so that she can get accredited in the U.S. Polly and Vanessa's relationship goes beyond learning English. "My tutor is my friend," says Vanessa. Polly is a Colorado Mountain College English as a Second Language teacher and has worked for several media outlets in Aspen. She is a longtime resident of the Valley.
Adriana has been a student with English In Action since 2000. She is now an advanced speaker and recently asked Stu to help her study for the GED, which she hopes to pass this year. She met Stu through her volunteer activities with the Town of Basalt. Stu is a dedicated police officer who enjoys being part of his community and has tutored other students with English In Action since 2008. Adriana is an extraordinary community member who dedicates her time to volunteering in the schools, her church and English In Action. She also tutors her "comadre" in English and has served on English In Action's Board of Directors. Adriana works as a babysitter and has lived in the U.S. since 1991.
Kate—a newcomer to the Valley—loves Latin American culture and wanted to connect with the immigrant community in our area. When she started tutoring Blanca she was worried about her ability to teach grammar. She now realizes that friendship and sharing are important parts of the process. "When I met Blanca, she seemed shy and a bit intimidated by the larger culture," Kate writes. "Underneath that initial shyness, I'm beginning to know and befriend a woman who is actually incredibly warm, intelligent and witty." Blanca and Kate have also discovered a common love of running. Kate is a freelance photographer and works in marketing and communications. Blanca is a housekeeper and came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2006.
Vicky and Christi's classes are often active. Frequently they go on walks and use the time to practice conversation skills. Some of their most enjoyable classes involve cooking. One time they each made a meal for their respective families. When they were done they swapped meals. It turned out that Christi's meal was too sweet for Vicky's family and Vicky's meal was too spicy for Christi's family! Vicky's English is steadily improving. Christi is a personal trainer and lives in Carbondale. Vicky is a housekeeper in Aspen and Carbondale. She moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997.
When Grisel started tutoring with Amy she was a beginner and lacked confidence speaking in English. At first Amy was uncertain how much she was helping Grisel, but over time they became good friends. Now, three years later, Grisel is an advanced speaker. "In reality, my life has changed a lot since I met Amy," Grisel says. "I used to have to bring my husband to translate for me whenever I had an appointment, but now I can go on my own." Amy is a longtime Aspen resident and business owner. Grisel moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 2003.