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Anderson Valley Adult School, California

Secrets of Salsa

The women of Anderson Valley’s EL Civics classes created Secrets of Salsa, a cookbook of traditional family recipes never written down. Native English-speaking community members joined the project as volunteers to do artwork, computer work, and photography for the cookbook, and ultimately produced a film documenting the entire process. In addition to the Secrets of Salsa project, the women organized a quilt-making and storytelling project with the adult school and Even Start. Some of the women have made presentations to teachers at educational conferences and several have given cooking classes. Because of increased self-esteem and language abilities, many of the women are getting their citizenship, passing the GED, and transitioning to job training or college classes. Secrets of Salsa has helped both the students and the community adapt to each other’s cultures in a creative way!

BASE (Basic Adult Spanish Education)

Saving Lives in the San Fernando Valley, California

EL Civics classes at BASE in Canoga Park offer CPR and first aid training — training specifically requested by the students as one of their objectives. They needed improved English language skills plus CPR and first aid training in order to volunteer at their children’s schools. The training has given the students the confidence they needed to volunteer and has provided the expertise to handle emergencies: three graduates whose family members had heart attacks were able to manage the situations until paramedics arrived, and one student reported using the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a small toy her child had swallowed. Also, a group of students created and used posters illustrating emergency health and safety issues to make oral presentations to their classes and to the parents at their children’s schools.

Ventura Adult School, California

Empowering Students to Become Involved in Government

An intermediate/advanced EL Civics class at Ventura Adult decided to learn how to access information that they could use to participate in school and local government activities. After touring City Hall and talking with a member of the City Council, the class felt empowered to speak to local officials about making health care available to more than five thousand children in Ventura who did not qualify for health insurance. When the class discovered the County Board of Supervisors would be addressing the topic in the coming months, the students hand carried letters they had written to the board meetings where two students were asked to make a presentation. Although the Children’s Healthcare Initiative has not yet passed in Ventura, the students have become increasingly aware of local issues, of their ability to make a difference in the community, and of the need to continue their work to improve community life.

Vista Adult School, California

“Talking with Police”: Bringing Law Enforcement and the Community Together

For many adult students, depending upon their cultural background, talking with police may evoke an array of negative emotions. Vista Adult School met this issue head on with their “Talking with Police” program. The year-long program, with supporting curriculum, incorporated suggestions from the Vista Weed and Seed Program and the Vista Crime Prevention Commission. The program was particularly timely after three officer-involved fatalities occurred in Vista in August 2005. The officers’ presentations and the community discussions that followed were very valuable. The officers were open and honest, and they encouraged questions leading to a great deal of interaction. As a result of the presentations, one student submitted an application to become a volunteer translator for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Vista Division; several students scheduled appointments with the community service officer to report crimes in their apartment complexes; and several other students referred family members to these agencies. The “Talking with Police” program has helped the Vista Adult EL Civics/ESL student population feel connected to, and confident in, the community in which they live and work.

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