Spanish classes for migrant workers in the East Valley

Spanish classes for migrant workers in the East Valley

Claudia Buccio

Father Francisco Valdovinos reorganized some desks and cleaned the whiteboard in a classroom at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic church in Mecca. Valdovinos is hopeful about the possibility of opening a community plaza at his parish. This project would give migrant workers the opportunity to learn how to read and write in Spanish.

“Education transforms and generates opportunities so families can live with dignity,” he said.

Father Valdovinos has been in talks with the Mexican consulate in San Bernardino about educating migrant workers in the East Valley. He said most of his churchgoers are farmworkers who moved from Mexico and Central America, a large portion of them are part of an indigenous community from southern Mexico known as Purepechas. Many only speak their native language or if they speak Spanish, they did not go to school in their home country.

“It becomes part of our mission here at the church,” Valdovinos said. “We don’t only focus on sacramental life, we also focus on social issues, and on educating our community.”

According to the Salomón Rosas, the deputy of the Mexican consulate, there are 10 other community plazas bringing educational programs to migrants in the county.

“We want to teach free classes, so people can complete their elementary and middle school certificate, and even taking online high school classes certified by the National Autonomous University of Mexico,” Rosas said.  

Valdovinos has also talked with county officials, so students can also get their U.S. high school diploma. This is still in the works.

“If an immigrant seeks education then he or she can be a motivation for his or her children, and that way they can climb the social ladder through education,” Valdovinos said.

Conversations around this project are still underway, but if it is approved adult migrants will be able to take their first classes by the end of November at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mecca. This program will be open to all migrants regardless of their country of origin.