posted April 17, 2007

Students Organize Fundraiser for LAUP ESL Classes

Hope College students who have been volunteering with the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes offered by Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) are hoping to assure that the program continues by organizing a fundraiser on its behalf.

Hope will host a "Food Fiesta" on Friday, April 20, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. The event will feature food from Mexico, Central America, South America and other regions, made by the ESL students.

The food items will be available by tickets that those attending will purchase on-site, with the first five tickets costing $1 each and additional tickets costing $0.50 each.

LAUP has offered ESL classes for the last three years and currently has more than 80 individuals registered for the classes, which are held three nights a week for two hours. The current session ends this month, and funds for the next semester have yet to be secured.

Approximately 70 Hope students are involved in the ESL program in a variety of ways, with about seven serving as instructors of the classes and the others helping as tutors, assisting the instructors, providing childcare assistance in the nursery for parents enrolled in the program or contributing other support services.

"The desire to learn that each student displays, and their incredible motivation to learn, really shows their tremendous character," said Hope senior Brian Miller of Tecumseh, who serves the program as an instructor. "Knowing the impact that better English skills will have for our students drives us to teach to the best of our abilities."

LAUP is a nonprofit organization that implements the Hispanic community's educational, economic, social, political and cultural goals and aspirations. LAUP's mission is "To advocate for the acceptance of the Latino community through cultural awareness and education of tomorrow's leaders. To open doors of opportunity through the acceptance of differences."

In addition to the Hope students working with the ESL program, several students also serve with LAUP in other ways.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., at Columbia Avenue and 11th Street.