Thursday, November 17, 2005

Immigrant Resource Center in a Bind

Immigrant Resource Center in a Bind
Saundra Amrhein
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
November 11, 2005
Copyright 2005 Times Publishing Company

A school that offers free English classes to adults might shut down if it can’t come up with the money to apply for a zoning change.
SEFFNER - In their countries, they were dentists and business people.
But here in this breezy yellow brick house off Parsons Avenue, they are students seeking a path out of manual labor.
At the Multicultural Resource Center, more than two dozen adult immigrant students gather four mornings a week to study English in a house turned into a language school and computer lab.
Another 80 are on a waiting list.
But the popular school, which was started in the late ‘90s, might be shut down next month unless directors come up with $3,500 to apply for a zoning change. The county sought the change after a neighbor complained.
For many with night jobs or schoolage children to care for, the free morning classes are like a salvation.
“My daughter is studying in school, and how can I help her?” asked Carmen Moncayo, 45, originally of Peru. Her daughter is 9. “How can I help her if I don’t know English?”
Seated next to her, 62-year-old Elsa Icaza, a dentist in her native country of Ecuador, can’t return to her profession until she learns English. She cares for her two grandchildren in the afternoons and evenings.
“If it weren’t for this (morning) class,” she said, “I couldn’t study.

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