In Mexico there is a very strong correlation between occupation, level of education attained, household income and access to English language learning. English speakers land better jobs and have higher probability of being hired. In 2017, two members of 'La Vina' church, Sue Ann Peck and her husband John approached pastor Fred Collom about starting an English school for the kids at the Malova feeding center (the feeding center closest to the Mazatlan dump). Sue Ann and John had been volunteering at the Malova feeding center for quite some time and wanted to do something extra for the children they had grown attached to. They wanted to make a bigger impact on the kids' future in the hope to break their cycle of poverty. Combining Sue Ann's passion for languages and their knowledge that Speaking English sets you apart in the Mexican job market and opens up more opportunities, Sue Ann and John, with the support of pastor Fred Collom, started 'La Vina's' first English class in November of 2017.
Before the Covid19 Pandemic hit, the English School was operating in two locations, the Malova feeding center on Saturdays and at 'La Vina' church in the golden zone on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we were about to open a third location in Stone Island. Each of the schools offered 3 or more levels of difficulty of the English Language. Students of all ages (the youngest was 3 years old!) were welcomed to the beginner level and could join or drop any time. On our first day of classes in the Golden Zone we only had one classroom available and were expecting 4 to 5 kids to show up but we got 30 students on the first day! One of the students was Rebecca, a sweet 7 year old girl. In the one and a half years that we've had the school, this little girl never once missed a class. She cried when she found out that the school had to close due to Covid. When asked why she wanted to learn English Rebecca would respond "It's because I'm going to have a job when I grow up and English is going to help me."
Once Covid hit we could no longer host in person classes. After a month and a half we tried doing online classes via zoom but very few kids have access to the internet and we were not getting the participation we were hoping for. Currently we have two 16 year old girls taking private English lessons online twice a week. Both girls are very bright and are doing an amazing job.
We don’t know when or how the feeding centers will reopen and therefore we don’t know when we'll be able to have in person English classes again. But once we do, we want to open more schools in the rest of the feeding centers so that more kids can learn English who couldn’t otherwise afford it. Our long term vision would be to open a standalone English school near the Malova feeding center with multiple classrooms, internet access, and computers or tables for the kids to use. What has been so touching to see is how dedicated the students are and how serious they are in their English studies. We want to invest in their future and make sure they get out of the program as much as they are putting in.
There are many ways to get involved with the English school. From teaching English locally or remotely online to donating supplies or electronics for when we open again. If you have a passion for languages, a love for teaching, or just want to be part of the team don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to grow our reach and help build a better future for kids in need here in Mazatlan Mexico.