ESL student Ángela Santiago gets a hug from professor Michelle Bialeck. Photos by Bruce GilbertDozens of Bronxites celebrated their new English skills at a party on the Rose Hill campus on June 21.
The dinner reception and certificate ceremony capped off the first English as a Second Language (ESL) course offered to Bronx adults by Fordham’s Institute of American Language and Culture. The free course was made possible by a grant from the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development.
“We wanted to be more involved in the community,” Community ESL Program Coordinator Jesús Aceves-Loza said of the institute, which has been providing English courses for college students from around the world for many years.
“The Jesuits have this principle of cura personalis, care for the whole person. Talking metaphorically, the whole person is the Bronx, and we need to address the needs of every part of that huge body.”
Students in the ESL program hailed from 13 countries, including Nicaragua, Mexico, Italy, and the Dominican Republic. Many of them came brought children and other family members to the reception. After the certificate presentation, some gave speeches or performances, including dances, songs, and even a clown act.
‘I Have Been Waiting for This’
Aceves-Loza said the ESL students ranged in age from a young man of 23 to 83-year-old “Italian nonna” Giuseppina Cibelli, of whom he spoke fondly.
“She said, ‘This is the first time we feel that any Catholic college is interested in us. For 50 years I have been waiting for this. It’s wonderful that Fordham is taking care of us as its neighbors.’”
Accompanied by her daughter, ESL student Ivette Brenes receives her certificate from Professor Bin Kong
The institute hired four ESL teachers for the course; other volunteer teachers included Fordham students and Jesuit scholastics from the Fordham community. All teachers completed a certificate program in …