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Posted by: WCC

Community Life ESL recently wrapped its third year with a special ESL Friendsgiving Celebration Nov. 14 in the WCC café. A total of 34 students, 24 adults and 10 grade-school children, participated in the program throughout the fall. Volunteers, consisting of 11 conversation coaches—eight at Harrison Elementary School and three at Eisenhower—and four childcare workers—three at Harrison and two at Eisenhower—helped make the classes possible. Since its inception in 2021, more than 75 adult students have been served, with some returning each year.

Community Life ESL has two goals: 1) to help adult students who do not speak English develop conversational English to boost their confidence as they integrate into the community and 2) for volunteers to establish and build relationships with the adult students while living out and sharing the hope of the Gospel.

Classes take place for 10 weeks for one hour on Tuesday nights from late August to early November.  Conversation coaches partner with adult students in small groups for round-table discussions and help the students practice their language skills using topics assigned by the ESL Instructor. Coaches and students share their life stories with each other as they get to know one another.

“Community Life ESL is a bridge between cultures and an opportunity to share hope,” said Sam Peña, pastor of Hispanic Ministries at WCC and program coordinator. “It has been a blessing to get to know the students and work with the volunteers. The program goes beyond language lessons and allows for the building of relationships while making the students feel welcome, seen and heard.”

The session concluded with the ESL Friendsgiving Celebration. The event provided a time for everyone involved with the program to socialize and share a meal that consisted of favorite foods from around the globe. A total of 84 people comprised of ESL students and their families, conversation coaches and leaders of the Hispanic Ministries leadership team attended the event, which concluded with coffee-house style worship.

“It was an unforgettable feast of cultures and connections,” said Sam. “Students from India, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Mexico shared their favorite holiday dishes, representing their unique culture and heritage. Laughter, conversations and gratitude filled the air.

“It is a true testament to the transformative journey of Community Life ESL when you can witness the power of connection between a group of individuals who were once strangers,” Sam concluded. “Hearts were united, and bonds were formed. The celebration was truly a tapestry of connection that transcended language and embraced the beauty of our shared hope in Christ.”