An example of immigrant integration in action at San Mateo Adult School, a K-12 Adult School:
New San Mateo Program Educates Immigrants About Local Government
News Desk, March 19th, 2018
From the City of San Mateo: A diverse group of immigrants are getting an exclusive look at critical city services as part of the new English as a Second Language (ESL) City Government Academy. The City of San Mateo, in partnership with the San Mateo Adult School of the San Mateo Union High School District, recently launched the program to educate this new segment of the community about how local government works and to empower them to be able to access available resources and programs provided by the City. This first class of 25 students hail from 10 different countries.
The four-month program, which began in January, aims to expand participants' awareness of local government, and increase civic engagement, leadership and volunteerism.
"Our key goal is for participants to feel empowered and comfortable accessing City services," said City Manager Larry Patterson, who championed the program's inception. "We are particularly excited to be energizing a new segment of our community to become more civically engaged."
The program is the brainchild of Stephanie Kriebel, an educator who is herself a graduate of San Mateo's traditional City Services Academy.
"As an ESL teacher at San Mateo Adult School, I saw an opportunity for us to help bridge the immigrant community we serve with City services to help familiarize our students with what the City does, how it helps the community, and what opportunities lie within the City for them to pursue," Kriebel said.
Academy participants have an opportunity to meet with City staff and learn about local government while also garnering concrete knowledge and skills to empower them in their everyday lives, such as learning how to operate a fire extinguisher and register for a recreation class. For some, even visiting City facilities is novel. For others, the impact of participating in the Academy runs far deeper.
"I honestly think I'm so lucky to live in San Mateo because the City of San Mateo organizes so many events and programs for the community. I come from Guatemala originally, and these kinds of programs help me integrate into the community here. Now I have lots of things I can do," said program participant Edwin Turuy.
Program days include visits to San Mateo's Fire Station 23, Beresford Recreation Center and Park, Police Station, Wastewater Treatment Plant, and City Hall. Future cohorts will also have the opportunity to visit the San Mateo Public Library. The pilot program culminates with a graduation ceremony April 19, 2018.
Photos courtesy of the City of San Mateo (ESL students learn how to operate a fire extinguisher during a tour of a San Mateo fire station.)