Adult learners saluted during special week

May 19, 2008
By

Boston’s fourth annual Adult Education and Literacy Week started on May 11 and ends May 17. The Jamaica Plain/Egleston Square Adult Education Network is honoring these adult learners for their outstanding accomplishments as they learn English, work toward a high school diploma or GED, or learn basic skills. Going to school as an adult is challenging because adults must balance school with child care and family responsibilities, work schedules, housing problems and homelessness, health problems and immigration issues. The following people, from various adult education programs in Jamaica Plain, are to be saluted for their perseverance and success:

Jamaica Plain Community Centers Adult Learning Program

Fermina Montero grew up in the Dominican Republic with her family of 14 in a house with no electricity or telephone and a floor made of dirt. Still she says, “We were happy children. We played in the moonlight and took showers under the falling rain.”

Fermina married and in 1988 followed her husband to New York where they lived in an apartment with 11 others. After a separation, she raised her two children alone, working in factories, often bringing work home and working until midnight to pay the rent and put food on the table.

In 1997, Fermina rejoined her husband in Boston, a town she has come to love. Her grown children, both college graduates, are her pride and joy. Her daughter is a financial specialist. and her son an engineer. Now it’s Fermina’s turn! For three years she’s been catching up on her own education, studying three mornings a week at the Jamaica Plain Community Centers Adult Learning Program and looking ahead to the opportunities that knowing English will open up for her in the US.

Jobs for JP/JPNDC

Fernando Rojas is a native of Nicaragua who came to the United States 18 years ago. He obtained his GED at East Boston Adult Education Center and took ESOL classes at Roxbury Community College. Then he enrolled at Wentworth Institute of Technology where he received a certificate for Gas Tungsten Arch and Gas Metal Arch Welding. After completing his certificate, he took more ESOL classes at the Adult Learning Program to improve his language skills. During the time he was a student at the Adult Learning Program, he was a part of the student council committee and helped other students in his classroom with homework and made referrals for them to other community organizations. As an immigrant, he identified with other students who wanted to learn to communicate fluently in English and started volunteering as a tutor. In addition, he attended the Tech-Change Program where he learned how to refurbish old computers to sell to low-income families. He tutored students there, too. He was a participant of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) Jobs for Jamaica Plain Program. He is currently working at CF Technologies, Inc. in Boston and has been a JPNDC board member since 2005.

Oficina Hispana

Deyvi E. Alcantara was born in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, in 1979. His parents worked hard all their lives. His father had a military career and his mother worked with young children. They both worked hard and encouraged their children to work and study hard, so they would have a good future.

After his father died, life was difficult for them, and it was a challenge to realize the life his father pictured for them. Higher education was difficult to obtain, but he was able to complete my career as an industrial engineer through work and study.

He was fortunate that his wife and he were able to immigrate to the USA. This has helped him study the English language and be a competitive and productive member of society.

Spanish Immersion

Mireya Guzman began tutoring at the Spanish Immersion program in February 2007 and has been very active since. She talks to learners from her life experience. Learners, who have practiced Spanish with her, have been delighted with her interesting topics of conversation and kindness.

They enjoy talking to her, and they do not want to stop. She helps the program in whatever is needed, often bringing home recipes and food to our meetings.

Mireya was in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a bank employee and owned a small business. She moved to Boston six years ago. She has a full schedule between being a medical escort for Latino seniors and on her own visiting sick people and speaking Spanish with people who need to practice.

Jose Acajabon, one of the founders of the program, comes from Guatemala.

He is very active in the community. He doesn’t miss a community meeting. He has been one of the most popular speakers in this program. He always has interesting topics about life in his home country, his work experiences, his opinions, as well as on the current news. People continuously look for him in order to keep up their oral skills.

Jose has found a very relaxing activity though the guitar classes for Spanish Immersion JP. At the beginning, guitar playing was very hard for him, but with hard work he has turned into a musician.

GED Plus/ESAC

Sheneka Hall resides in Roxbury with her 2-year-old son. She entered classes in January 2004 and has had to withdraw occasionally since then, as her personal circumstances required. These disruptions frustrated her, but she continued. When she is able to attend, she works very hard and has made impressive strides in her learning over time. Now she works full-time in daycare in downtown Boston and attends classes in the evening. At this time she has registered for the GED exam, and program staff expect her to do well. She would like to go on to college and become a lawyer. Her steadfast devotion to her goal is finally paying off!

Submitted by members of the Jamaica Plain/Egleston Square Adult Education Network.