Friday, May 2, 2014

SMAS and Harvard "Shaking Hands" for Adult Education

On Saturday, April 26, San Mateo Adult School Student Leaders took part in the Summit on Adult Education put on by Harvard's CAELA - Community of Adult ESL and Literacy Advocates.    (My thoughts on that here.)

SMAS ESL Morning Student Council President Marco, Advocate Marina, Evening Vice President Maricruz, and Morning Student Council Advisor Teacher Lisa took part in the Summit via the Internet

SMAS Advocate Marina
SMAS Evening VP Maricruz
and SMAS Morning President Marco

Here is Marco's account of the workshop and its topic:

SMAS and Harvard "Shaking Hands" for Adult Education

I never imagined when I enrolled at San Mateo Adult School that I would be able to go in many places, like Sacramento's hearings, workshops at the CCAE, representing my school and my fellow students.  It's something that comes from my heart to do, and I love doing it. I always try to be positive  and do my best, as I can.
I would like to thank,Adult Education for making all these possible, also to all teachers who are doing an outstanding job, to people and organizations from the community for your support and generosity, behind each Adult Learner are families and children who will be benefited if mom and dad do better. 
Thanks Brenda! For inviting us to participate in the CAELA Harvard summit. It was an honor to speak and be listened to by a special audience, like the one we spoke to.  It's amazing to see that people from a  prestigious university like Harvard take the initiative to do something positive for Adult Education, two thumbs up for you guys!!
Definitely, if we want to see AE in a better position than where it is now, it's critical the media's support, as well as recognized institutions playing an important role, turning" non believers" into supporters.  Probably people ignore the existence, or what AE has done, how it has improved communities where it exists. For example my beautiful San Mateo, which I love like my own home town and feel goosebumps when  I think about moving somewhere else with its diversity in population, people get along with each other, its crime rate is lower than many other places, gang related issues, have not heard that much in all these years. 
 And all this is great for business. People work, spend $ and  that keeps the economy moving. 
Isn't that great?  Who doesn't want to live in a place like this?   But on the other hand in communities where Adult Education  has been cut, or what is worse, been closed, you can see the devastating effects that this has brought to them.  
People need a positive place, where to get skills required by these days' jobs, to  learn how to be responsible citizens, to invest their time and energy  -- I could go on and on giving examples. 
Is obvious that Adult Schools are working, doing what they are supposed to do, improving people's lives. 
I believe in education, that it should be a human right.  People of all ages benefit from it.

Brenda, one of the organizers of the summit, had this to say about the workshop with SMAS leaders:

"People repeatedly talked to me after about how San Mateo was the most powerful part of the summit...How they were just brought to tears by the stories.   It was evident, so clear, that what you are doing is so powerful, so different than many institutionalized programs do, but really what many adult educators have been about for years out of the limelight. . I can promise you that afterwards, if you all had been there you would have been surrounded by people asking questions. It was truly moving what you brought to the campus. We have that so rarely at know we problematize things, and talk about things as statistics, so what you all brought...the reality, the work on the ground...contained such power, such connection...that I think people will go out from this and really have new hope and new direction for how to do their work. And the power is also that many of the people in the room are future policymakers, so I hope that because of this discussion they and consider deeply the importance of adult education as they make funding and policy decisions."

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