No Signs of Slowing: Casa Spanish Classes for Refugees Celebrates Two Years

clases-pinataWow–that was a great party. The Casa was filled up and down with students, guests, friends, volunteers, and members of the migrant and refugee rights community of Mexico City. In the sala and on the patio, celebration, music, and dancing. Haitian, Iranian and Mexican food. Some tears. But mostly, a feeling of accomplishment, solidarity and fun.

Last week, Casa de los Amigos roundly celebrated two years of hosting daily Spanish classes for new refugees. We want to share with the Casa community three reasons why we wanted to mark this special date.

1. We’ll take any opportunity to celebrate this incredible community, and let everybody know about this project.

We’ve been doing this for two years now, and we still can’t get over how cool this is. Each morning, about 25 students come to the Casa for the classes. This is their meeting place and reference point. The students feel welcome and safe here, and they are. They become good friends, and they help each other. They attend other events at the Casa, and meet the people who live and work here. They also learn to speak Spanish. Every three months, when the students graduate on to courses at UNAM, or to the “perfectioning” class, they recieve certificates of completion and we have a little fiesta. As Casa parties go, these are some of the funnest we have.

Click here to see a slideshow with more pictures from the party!

comida-clases2. There continues to be a serious need for a free, accessible, intensive Spanish course in Mexico for newly-arrived refugees.

The first classes at the Casa, in July, 2010, were held as an emergency measure in response to an influx of Haitian refugee families after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Since then, over 300 people have studied Spanish in the Casa. They’ve come from Haiti, Congo, Cameroon, Brazil, Ghana, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Iran, Nigeria, Nepal, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Syria, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Afghanistan, Liberia, China, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Tibet, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. These new immigrants have a lot to offer this country, but in order to find work and housing, they need to learn Spanish as quickly as possible. These classes are very important!

3. The decision to hold these classes in the Casa has changed our lives/
Being able to meet the Spanish class students and bring them into our home and lives is a daily wonder. We feel especially lucky because we get to witness the transformation that occurs as they become more and more able to express themselves in their new language–no small achievement. For the last two years, vistors to the Casa have been able to spend time with the students. Just as the students’ spirit and strength is contagious, so is the Casa’s simple witness of opening our doors for this work. Holding the classes here takes time, money and resources, but we feel blessed to be a part of it.
la foto-clases
Some of you may remember the Haitian family who came to stay at the Casa two weeks after the earthquake. They also came to the party, to help celebrate the occasion. Their injuries have healed by now, and we could barely recognize the children as they’ve both sprouted. They all looked very sharp, and they all spoke an excellent Spanish.

Please consider making a donation to further the work of the Casa de los Amigos.

In peace and friendship,

The Casa de los Amigos team, summer 2012
Carey, Tony, Ramsés, Sam, Mary Clare, Pancha, Paula, Ester, Kate, Pablo, Noemi, Marla, Genesis, Lis, Annie, Sara, Brian, Susan, Teresa, Hayley, Lis, Nico, Miguel Ángel y Blanca.

En paz y amistad,

El equipo de la Casa, verano 2012
Carey, Tony, Ramsés, Sam, Mary Clare, Pancha, Paula, Ester, Kate, Pablo, Noemi, Marla, Genesis, Lis, Annie, Sara, Brian, Susan, Teresa, Hayley, Lis, Nico, Miguel Ángel y Blanca