The English-as-a-second-language class I volunteer with had a fiesta last night. The program is part of Even Start, a learning program, and they joined up with Head Start, another learning group, for their annual shindig.
There are really two groups of people within the programs—the Hispanics who work their tails off to learn English, and the Americans who dropped out of school and now have to get back into it. Sometimes the Americans are there by court order to avoid jail time or to keep their kids, so they are often more likely to have an attitude and less likely to apply themselves. Either way, everyone showed up, and the party room was filled with 225 people plus staff and volunteers.
Mexican restaurants from all over donated the food, and this Puerto Rican couple I have come to love made dessert. The woman, Suhey, was a professional baker back home, so she made flan for 100 people and this adorable almond cake that is tradition for Puerto Rican parties. Her husband, José, is one hard working father. He was working two jobs but is now down to one. He works in the kitchen at Red Lobster but would rather do almost anything else. José gave salsa dancing instructions at the party.
There were craft tables for the 50 gazillion screaming kids—they made ponchos out of grocery bags, maracas out of paper tubes and beans, beaded necklaces, and picture frames to hold the family photos that were taken at the door. They played pin the tale on the burro and limbo with this blow-up cactus thing.
It was all very fun, and one of the teachers and I stood in the back and marveled at how lucky we were to be part of it. And we wondered what we did with ourselves before we got involved with this program. Lucky us.