English In Action's mission is to build a stronger community and intercultural relationships though language development, personal empowerment and community engagement.
English In Action was created to help immigrant adults in the Roaring Fork Valley develop the language and personal skills needed to participate actively as parents, workers, and members of our community. Additionally, we help to build lasting bridges of trust and understanding between immigrant and non-immigrant residents. We believe these relationships serve to strengthen the quality of life for all people in our community.
English In Action was founded in 1994 in response to a substantially increased immigrant population in the Roaring Fork Valley. Immigrants-predominately from Mexico and Central America-now represent at least 30% of the total population and are a vital part of our community. English In Action's programs aim to:
1) Ensure that all members of our community have the English skills they need to be successful in their personal and work goals. These skills help people to get better jobs; communicate with medical professionals; support the education of their children; and take part in the community.
2) Promote meaningful cross-cultural exchanges so that we have a healthy, well-integrated community. This happens through our tutoring relationships, as well as community events.
English In Action was founded as a small program of the Basalt Regional Library (then known as the Adult Literacy Program). By 2005 we had outgrown the space within the library and spun off under the fiscal sponsorship of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center (CNDC). We became fully independent in early 2008. Our primary office is El Jebel and we have strong partnerships with the libraries in our region.
The strongest evidence of our success comes from the students and tutors who participate in our program. Both tutors and students benefit from our program. Here is one recent story from a tutor:
"The time I have with my student, Elmer, has us meeting every week, 1 day a week, for only 1 hour. During this time, my focus is to have Elmer talk the majority of the time to work on his English speaking skills. We will talk about his time working on the ranch, his children, his extended family in El Salvador, and about his 2nd job working at the hospital in the cafeteria. I have discovered that our time together is only one of possibly a handful of hours he may have during the week to interact and speak English with someone. I have come to feel a responsibility in our friendship to help him, as the hour we have may be the most crucial of his English learning tactic that week.
Since our time together, Elmer has become more comfortable with his own skills, enough so to attend ESL courses, take on extra work while he is home alone, and he is now working the cash register in the cafeteria talking to many people. I can see the excitement in him as he talks about these new challenges and interactions he has while working the cash register, although he does say the 'old people talk A LOT'!
On a heavier note, our time together has opened my eyes to a world where many people struggle on a daily basis. From his stories about his childhood to more recent times of the dangers in El Salvador, I have discovered just how easy I have it. Elmer and I also have something in common, our father's are in bad health and may only have a short time with us. The difference is my father lives in Illinois, and at a moments notice I can easily drive to see him. Elmer on the other hand does not have the correct paperwork to travel right now and has no idea when or if he will see his father alive again.
I have told my wife on multiple occasions I cannot miss my hour with Elmer. And after hearing the stories I relay to her, she understands the importance of the time Elmer and I share. She and I both know the amount of empathy I have for Elmer continues to grow each week.
Personally, I have grown to understand the struggles of a culture I previously dismissed because of the simple world we live in. There have been times I have come home and reflected upon the stories Elmer has told me. And many times tears have been shed.
Professionally, wearing this uniform, I have discovered a new respect for the Latino population I serve. Many of the immigrants I come into contact with are hesitant to report crimes they may have been a victim of, let alone just talk with me. I truly hope the friendship Elmer and I have formed will help me build a rapport with every person I meet, and in turn they will trust I will to do the right things, for the right reasons, all of the time."
-- Aaron Munch, Sergeant, Basalt Police Department