Story By Mark Graven
One doesn’t have to travel to the Grand Canyon to know that geography can divide people. But people can be isolated and divided in many ways, Deborah Lima, president of CNM’s ESL (English as a Second Language) Club, has discovered- especially in a time of covid, and especially when you are from a foreign country.
The 16 members of the ESL come from around the globe, according to Lima, an ESL major from Brazil. Some of the other countries represented include Russia, China, Saudia Arabia, Vietnam, South Korea, and Mexico, she said. Some are young, some are older, including a 91-year old from Russia.
Normally, they would meet at locations on the Montoya campus, and go on outings to interesting spots in New Mexico, like the pueblos, Lima said in a telephone interview.
The club members would also enjoy the fellowship of potluck dinners, with some outstanding international cuisine. Currently, however, the club, like many CNM clubs, operates, remotely–using Zoom and the telephone, Lima noted.
Lima said that she tries to talk to each member of her club by phone everyday.
“We talk about cooking, gardening, our families, our dogs, our hobbies– anything but the pandemic” said Lima.
According to Laura Jijon, the group’s faculty advisor, club members help each other register for programs and activities, and with their studies. They help people get in touch with the right person to solve a problem, she said.
It is all about staying in touch, staying connected, and helping each other, according to Lima, who applauds Jijon for setting a great example.
According to Jijon, the group members have collaborated on writing projects, including a children’s book, entitled “CNM Small World,” and a book of poetry, ” Immigrant Memories and Poetic Ambitions.”
The club is currently considering producing a book and/or an event about their experience during the pandemic, Jijon said.