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Bakersfield Adult School

EL Civics students at Bakersfield Adult School have been studying democracy in action. Recently five students shadowed a member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors for a day and learned about the supervisor’s duties and responsibilities. In the past 3 years, 15 students have been able to shadow a supervisor, and another 100 have attended sessions in chambers to watch county government in action. On completion of the activities, students realize they have the right to participate in local decision-making. One job-shadow student was invited to talk to a citizenship class about what he had learned. Another student said that she now frequently watches supervisors’ meetings on TV.

Fresno Adult School

The Navigator Project is a collaborative effort with Fresno Metro Ministries, Community Medical Centers of Fresno, and Fresno Adult School to train EL Civics/ESL students to become change agents in dispelling the fears that the Hispanic community has about navigating the health care system. Students learn to navigate the health care system themselves and then to present that information to others. The project is in its first year and will culminate with graduation in December 2005. One student has already received an offer of employment upon graduation. Several students have spoken at Fresno Metro Ministries, and all students will serve as mentors to other students who are currently signing up for the next round. The goal of the project is to prepare students to advocate for their own health care rights and feel empowered to share their new-found knowledge with others.

Los Angeles Community Adult School

In 2002-03, after visiting local service agencies, EL Civics students at Los Angeles Community Adult School created a Directory of Community Services highlighting the services provided. As a culminating event, the students organized a community resources fair attended by many agencies listed in the directory. Now in its fourth year, the fair and the directory are part of the yearly activities of the EL Civics program. The May 2005 fair showcased 55 community agencies with 1,250 students and community members participating. A quote from one student illustrates the extent of increased community involvement: “It’s easier to find a solution to a problem. I know the people (in the directory and at the fair) are able to help me. I’m able to help my neighbors with any problem through the community resources.”

Vista Adult School

In Vista an intermediate/advanced EL Civics class studied disaster preparedness — earthquakes, fires, illnesses, and terrorist attacks, what constitutes emergencies and disasters, and appropriate actions to take in reporting crisis situations. Students worked to prepare their own households for an extended disaster, and as a result, 12 students became disaster preparedness trainers. They organized a health and safety fair, and four students made presentations in their community, with one student providing disaster preparedness training at his apartment complex and another at his church. One student is now serving on the local Community Advisory Committee.

The EL Civics students in these programs can now do something they could not do previously. Their lives, and the lives of their families, have been changed forever. This is the goal of the EL Civics program in California.

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