At the Intergenerational Literacy Program, we always end the semester with a large class party where all the students bring food to share. The result is a delicious buffet of various ethnic dishes, particularly from Latin America. The most popular are always the tamales and pupusas, a favorite among our Salvadorean learners. There are always some food items that are unique for eating at 8:30 in the morning, including fried chicken from Pollo Campero or a large assortment of cupcakes. Nonetheless, there’s always plenty of good quality food to enjoy, and to take home.
I spent the party sitting with my table of lower level learners. We shared good laughs at the table during the two hours we spent enjoying the food. One learner, a Tanzanian woman I know from the other morning class, entertained us all with her fascination of the the Salvadorean food and her attempts at speaking Spanish in the phrases that she has picked up from her classmates. She kept us laughing with saying phrases like “chicki-pollo” and “no finish comer” and claiming that she was from Puerto Rico. We took some great photos as a group, including a few in which one of my Tanzanian students slyly put a cup to her mouth to act a little silly while a teacher took the group photo. Another student went through her phone showing me pictures of her dressed up for an occasion and describing herself as “sexy”. She then started showing me more obscure photos, like an undressed baby and her husband with a funny face, and still calling them “sexy”. I reciprocated and started going through my own phone to show some funny photos. I then spent some time speaking with one of my learners on how she has been teaching the alphabet her special needs daughter and assuring her that she has been doing an excellent job and encouraging she should consider being a therapist herself.
We wrapped up the party by taking individual photos and saying our good-byes. Because of my schedule next semester, it will be the first time that I will be unable to return to this class that I’ve been tutoring in since my sophomore year. I’ll be teaching in another class in which some of the students participate in, but it won’t be as individualized as my experience has been so far. I will truly miss the students I have come to know, especially the ones who have been in the class since I started, and hope that I can still come across my students in the future. They have all touched me with their stories and have inspired me with their resilience and passions. ILP has a special place in my heart, and I hope to continue to be involved in it as long as I can.