Community Impact’s ESOL Program Welcomes Neighborhood Immigrants from 82 Countries


Community Impact’s ESOL Program Welcomes Neighborhood Immigrants from 82 Countries

Mario Alvarez, CC '14ESOL Program Coordinator, 2013-14

“Pick-up” time at PS 192 in Manhattanville is a two-way street.  Soon after throngs of neighborhood children stream out of the school, hundreds of neighborhood adults stream through those same doors.  These adults are participants in Community Impact’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program to improve their ability to read, write, and speak English.  PS 192 principal Susan Rivera understands that providing essential educational opportunities for parents and neighbors of her students will inspire these children to succeed as well.  

CI’s ESOL students come from remarkably diverse backgrounds as well as from many countries.    These include the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, and Ecuador as well as a number of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. In all, students hail from 82 countries - nearly half the countries of the world.

Our ESOL program has classes at five levels and offers classes four days a week in the afternoons or evenings. ESOL at CI utilizes a popular and effective program model; we offer an array of educational classes, auxiliary activities and support services that help students meet their goals and progress to higher education or to jobs with a living wage.  Our partnership with PS 192 allows us to utilize the teaching talents of Columbia University students and community volunteers

This past year, Mario Alvarez, who embodies the immigrant-Columbia student connection, served as lead coordinator for this largest of CI’s programs.  A personal highlight for Mario was when he recruited his parents, who are immigrants from the Dominican Republic, into the program last summer. Even as Mario prepared for his own graduation this May, he also organized the graduation ceremony for our ESOL students.  The festive celebration featured delicious dishes from five continents.  Although we are losing Mario, he has inspired other Columbia students who will ensure that our ESOL students will continue to succeed.