This year, Purchase College offered free English for Speakers of Other Languages classes organized through Casa Purchase, an Outreach Center for Latin American Studies, in partnership with the Westchester Hispanic Coalition and the Office for New Americans of New York State.
Suzanne Kessler, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said, “The ESOL program reflects two core values of Purchase: To fulfill our responsibility as a public institution serving the larger Westchester community, and to instill a sense of social responsibility in our students.”
Leandro Benmergui, assistant professor of history and coordinator of Latin-American studies, heads Casa Purchase, which serves as a hub of collaboration between the college and local communities and provides service-learning opportunities to students.
Professor Benmergui says, “Casa Purchase weaves together the educational, artistic, and research opportunities at Purchase College with the needs of local residents, schools, and organizations.”
Classes at the beginner, intermediate, and intermediate/advanced levels are taught by ESOL certified instructors. Purchase College students have the chance to act as learning assistants.
Jennifer Turano, a journalism student, said, “My experience as an ESL Learning Assistant really solidified my interests in languages and communication. As a bilingual student with near fluency in Spanish, I found that I could assist the teacher and the students in bridging the communication gap at times.
It really was special working with members of the community who have a dedication to bettering their English speaking and writing skills. Hearing about their experiences in the United States and what brought them here from their home country also gave it that much more of an impact because it is in times of hardship that people come closest together.”