SUNY Geneseo’s Together Program has straightforward aspirations: to build a cross-cultural bridge between undergraduate students and our Spanish-speaking communities. In practice, the program does much more.
The Together Program, coordinated through the Department of Language and Literatures’ Center for Language and Cultures, brings Spanish-speaking families to campus for adult literacy and pre-K-12 tutoring by Geneseo students. Rocío Vallejo-Alegre, a lecturer in language and literatures and the program’s director, calls the program a win-win.
“We help members of the Spanish-speaking community who want to learn or improve their English,” she said, “At the same time, we offer our undergraduates the opportunity to tutor in English, practice their Spanish, and be exposed to the Spanish-speaking culture.”
Lack of English is a barrier for community members including Hispanic farmworkers, many of whom support the dairy farm industry and displaced Puerto Ricans, whose regional population has grown since Hurricane Maria in 2017. Together creates a space for families to learn together. During the semester, classes meet every Sunday on campus.
As a voluntary program, it is free from constraints found in government assistance programs and is able to accept anyone eager to study English. “You want to learn, ‘Welcome.’ That’s it,” said Vallejo.
Across SUNY, students, faculty and administration alike are coming together to in the spirit of charity and togetherness. 30 Days of Giving is our annual tradition, which starts on Thanksgiving every year, where we reflect on efforts of the past year and highlight some of the selfless acts of that members of the SUNY community are leading. Stay tuned for more.
Taryn Rackmyer is a recent graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College, now attending the University at Albany for Public Policy. Taryn is a student assistant for SUNY's Government Relations & Marketing Department.