Rotarians learn about Grace’s ESL classes

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mitch Escovar, a chemist who has worked with Danimer since 2010, is also the coordinator for the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes being offered to the community at Grace Church on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m.

He came by this second occupation out of a personal experience when he had lost his original job and went to work as an interpreter for the Lazy Boy furniture company.  He soon realized he did not understand what people were saying in English. He would come home at night, collapse on the sofa and say, “I have no idea what they are talking about.” In his despair he prayed for enlightenment.

That is when he learned of a couple with whom he could meet regularly to gain better English and improve his comprehension.

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The learning goes way beyond just understanding the words, he says, as he speaks of the different customs of each country and learning to understand why people do what they do.

He has taken that learning to the next level with the leadership of the classes at Grace Church. First he realized he needed to learn more and he and his supporters from Grace visited the Cairo Baptist Church where similar lessons are being offered. They found they also offer a meal. He took some extra training and now there are three classes running simultaneously on Tuesday evenings—beginners, intermediate and advanced, where family members of those who have come to work in Georgia are learning English one word at a time.

There are now 15 students. The church receives no funding from the state and money for books comes from donations, as do the meals.

A couple of those who help teach the classes were present at Rotary and added comments. Mary Robinson said it seemed to her that all who come are grateful. She added they teach things that for us seem simple, such as how to order a hamburger at a fast food restaurant and tell them to hold the onions, etc. She said she spent 30 minutes one night teaching the right words for that.

Escovar said when he began this project he never thought he could do what he is now doing.

In the meantime, the word has spread throughout the community, as people, many from other congregations volunteer to help teach, or provide a meal.

“We are always looking for teachers,” he added, as well as contributions to purchase new books.