Centro San Juan Diego Monthly Newsletter
FROM STUDENT TO VOLUNTEER
In the fall of 2020, Santa Gonzalez (back row, third from left) began taking computer classes at Centro San Juan Diego in order to learn the skills necessary to support her husband's growing business. Once she completed the classes, she decided to step in as a volunteer.
"Now that I'm a volunteer, I feel like I'm learning even more than I did as a student," Santa says. As an assistant in the classroom, Santa feels like she has a chance to better understand the lessons and help other students apply them in real time. "You're listening, watching the teacher, absorbing the material, and then sharing it with others," she observes.
While Santa has gained a greater understanding of the computer through her time volunteering, she acknowledges that learning should never be a self-serving pursuit. "Whatever we learn," she says, "we have a responsibility to share with others who don't know." She adds that the process of teaching should not be, 'let me do it for you,' but rather, 'let me show you how to do it so that you can do it yourself in the future.' This distinction guides Santa's efforts in the classroom and echos Centro's mission to help the Spanish speaking immigrant community become more self-sufficient in everything they do.
Centro San Juan Diego, as a ministry of the Archdiocese of Denver, promotes the common good of the Hispanic community through education, family support, integration, and leadership formation. As both a student and volunteer, Santa embodies many aspects of this mission. Her own learning and personal growth have allowed her to integrate more fully into society while leading others in her community to do the same.
Santa, who has volunteered in various capacities and for different organizations for the past 16 years, is grateful that she has the time and flexibility to give back, especially in her own community. As for her advice to others? "We can all find even a little bit of time to help. It doesn't have to be four days a week or even one day a week, just find some time to help."
Thank you, Santa, for inspiring us all to invest in ourselves while helping others!
CLAUDIA SUGEIDY, UPAEP'S NEWEST GRADUATE!
Claudia Sugeidy presented her professional exam on Tuesday, June 8, marking the end of her
program with UPAEP (Universidad Popular Autonoma en Puebla). She graduates with honors, earning her bachelor's degree in Business Administration after four years of hard work and dedication.
Claudia first came to Centro as a volunteer, offering her time and talent as a certified tax preparer through the AARP Tax Aide program. During this time, she learned about Centro's collaboration with UPAEP to offer bachelor's and master's degree programs to students completely online and in Spanish.
After hearing about the program and learning more, Claudia felt motivated to take action. "It gave me a little light in the tunnel," she says. "The mind is the mind, and mine demanded that I keep learning." Despite significant obstacles, including the death of her father soon after she began her studies, Claudia persevered. When she wanted to give up, she counted on support from her teachers and staff at both UPAEP and Centro San Juan Diego. "I remember how she was when she started compared to how she is now. The change has been enormous," says one of Claudia's teachers.
Like Centro San Juan Diego, one of UPAEP's main objectives as a Catholic university is to create and form leaders so that they may live their lives in service to others. "This is exactly what happens here," says Claudia. "This program forms you to do just that; it gives you tools and shows you how to treat others. From where I started, I see things from a whole new perspective."
Congratulations, Claudia! May this great achievement be one of many more accomplishments to come.
ESL TEACHER TRAINING
Xǐ huān? Bu xǐ huān? Definitely xǐ huān! New and returning volunteer teachers enjoyed a training before the start of summer English classes that was conducted entirely in Mandarin. This lesson gave teachers the opportunity to both empathize with their students' experience and realize that it is possible to teach completely in the target language!
As teachers stumbled over difficult pronunciation while learning to say the names of fruits and whether or not they liked them, they gained a new appreciation for the language-learning process.
“Did anyone notice that other people were picking it up faster than you?” asked the trainer, JP Villanueva. After several teachers agreed, JP emphasized, “This is the part you should write down…this is how all of our students feel.” A fun and informative ice breaker, the training inspired teachers with new ideas and a deeper understanding of their own students’ stress and apprehension.
“It was really overwhelming at first, knowing no words,” said Aleea, a level 1 assistant. “Once I started to learn some of the words, it felt better.” Paul, a level 4 assistant recognized, “Repetition over and over. Finally, I’ll get it!”
The lesson proved that students can learn a foreign language without receiving instruction in their native language and even enjoy it in the process. That, says Program Manager, Erin Scherer, was the main takeaway she hoped the teachers would walk away with.
The training session allowed for other moments of reflection as well. Junior, a seasoned level 2 instructor, shared, “At the beginning of the class, the students come…tired from work and they have to get to know each other. That’s where building relationships and gaining their trust [comes in]. Because trust, you have to give it, but you also have to gain it. The students have to understand that you’re there to support them, not to judge and criticize them, but at the same time, you have to move them forward.” This is what we truly hope for in our classes, so hearing that from our teachers is a blessing for us as well…in any language!
In early March, Centro San Juan Diego welcomed Ceferina Rodriguez to the team! Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Ceferina has lived in Colorado most of her life. She is the front desk receptionist and is responsible for greeting guests and answering numerous questions throughout the day about the variety of classes and services that Centro San Juan Diego offers.
Ceferina says that working with fellow community members who are dedicated to improving themselves through the programs and resources offered at Centro has been her favorite aspect of the job so far.
"It is amazing to know that by offering necessary tools for the community, we can help them become more successful or help alleviate some of the burdens that are stopping them from moving forward with any situation they are going through," Ceferina says. She adds that while we might not have the answers to everything, whatever little help we can give, we can give with kindness!
We are so grateful to have Ceferina on our team!
Centura Health Equity & Advancement Fund Applications are Open!
Centura Health has announced the launch of its Health Equity & Advancement Fund, a $1 million community grant program to extend the impact of community efforts focused on advancing social justice through initiatives that extend health equity across Colorado and western Kansas.
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the need for improved health equity, especially within the Hispanic community. Organizations who are actively working to address these health disparities are encouraged to apply. For more information about this grant opportunity, visit Centura Health's Health Equity & Advancement Fund page
on Thursday, June 24 at 8:00AM