“Immigrants really do want to learn English, but they don’t always have time because they have to work and take care of their kids,” said Marleny Ruiz, co-chair of Linking Immigrants to New Communities.
LINC is sponsoring free ESL classes at the Human Rights Center in Abbey Court Condominiums and created the Know Your Rights program which is taught monthly.
The organization, part of UNC-CH Campus Y had been discontinued for about a year before Ruiz resurrected it. Ruiz then asked Jakelin Bonilla to join her in LINC’s mission.
LINC “helps ease the transition of recent immigrants to the United States through student interaction and raising awareness in the community,” according to their Web site.
Ruiz and Bonilla put together a program for LINC that they felt would cover important aspects in relation to the community’s immigrants.
“We had been a part of programs helping immigrants and Latinos before so we just incorporated what we had already learned into LINC,” said Ruiz.
Anna McCreight and Emily Egan, two LINC volunteers are responsible for conceiving lesson plans, keeping track of the participants progress and serve as managers for the classes.
“We’ve designed the classes around a one-on-one model where we pair UNC volunteers with students to work on the lesson plans we’ve designed. It’s a flexible model that allows tutors to show up to class and simply pick up where they left off,” said McCreight.
Many tutors come from a service learning project called APPLES. It is a student-led program “that builds sustainable, service-learning partnerships among students, faculty and communities in North Carolina and beyond,” according to APPLES Web site.
Ruiz said the classes are more geared towards adults since the children often learn English at school.
“Students ages range from 20-50, so we have a diverse bunch. Many are hoping to develop their English to improve communication at their jobs, participate more in their child’s education and be able to engage with more people in their community,” said McCreight.
The second program offered through LINC specializes in teaching immigrants about their rights and where they stand with the law.
Know Your Rights is a monthly class offered to the community through the guidance of LINC and a lawyer.
“I was trained in Mexico on how to give these presentations, but we have to have a lawyer present because we are giving legal advice to the people. The goal is that they are made aware of the rights they do have, even though they are undocumented,” said Ruiz.
LINC is planning campus discussions featuring guest immigrant speakers to bring awareness of the immigrant’s plight.
“We just want to raise awareness and show that these are families and are people who need a lot of help. We want to take the stigma away from what immigration is,” said Ruiz.
To volunteer in the English classes one does not need to have a teaching background or experience. If interested, just contact Marleny Ruiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.