PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 1-14-2002


La Mexicanita & Haywood Community College Host Open House for Prospective ESL Students.

The Haywood Community College English as a Second Language (ESL) program will hold an open house at La Mexicanita in Waynesville Friday, January 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. One of two Mexican stores in Haywood County, La Mexicanita sits at 122 Miller St. off Haywood Rd. just around the corner from Haywood Square and one block from Church St.

"We’re going to have live Cuban dance music, books and other instructional materials given away as door prizes, refreshments, and a piñata, " said Deborah Gaddy, HCC’s Coordinator of Adult Basic Skills, within which the ESL program operates. "Our goal is to let more people know about our ESL classes around the county," added Ellen Welles, lead ESL instructor. Welles has taught people from thirty different countries in the nearly eight years she has been with the program.

"We are really looking forward to having this open house," said store owner JosÈ Sandoval. His wife Patricia added, "Most workers get paid on Friday, so that’s the day there are the most people in the store."

The Sandovals opened their store only seven months ago after selling cowboy boots and hats door to door for several years. They specialize in western wear and also carry t-shirts, jeans, slacks, and jackets. Other merchandise includes typical Hispanic foods and spices, video rentals, dictionaries, and compact discs featuring Spanish language musicians.

The live music for the open house will be provided by father and son duo Joe and Nick Rothenberg la Paz and Bert Lopez, three members of the professional Cuban dance music band "Son de Cuba." Other members of the band are Joe’s wife, Alina, John Gambarde, and Sara Fernandez. Because Joe lived in Cuba until he was nine, he is fluent in both Spanish and English. Joe teaches ESL at JobLink Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. JobLink is located at the old Hazelwood Elementary School on Virginia Ave. in Hazelwood.

The ESL classes at the college are offered to non-native English speakers from any country in the world free of charge, noted Welles. "We have morning classes at the 800 Building on the Haywood Community College campus in Clyde and at the new JobLink site," she added. Evening ESL classes are held at La Roca Hispanic Ministry on Depot St. in Clyde from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. "Don’t forget we offer free babysitting at the JobLink and La Roca locations and can often arrange transportation to the morning classes through the Mountain Projects van service," said Gaddy.

The morning ESL class on campus is taught by Welles from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. All classes are open entry / open exit—they are ongoing without a definite beginning or end. Students come and go as their family and work responsibilities permit. "I’ve had restaurant workers who came for forty-five minutes every morning before working ten-and twelve-hour days," Welles said. Moving to a new country involves adjusting to more than just a different language, Welles said, noting that homesickness for their native customs also presents challenges for immigrants.

Besides migrant workers and others coming here to work, Welles also has college students and professionals from other countries who come to perfect their English so they can return to their native countries to work in international business or medicine or make the United States their home. She once had a couple from Ukraine who knew almost no English when they arrived, yet within one year, the husband had scored well on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language, required of all non-native speakers wanting to attend college here), passed the dental boards, and entered dental school. He had practiced dentistry for eight years already in Ukraine but had to augment his background with more courses in order to be licensed in the U.S.

For more information about the English as a Second Language Classes sponsored by Haywood Community College, please call the Adult Basic Skills program at 627-4643.