Filipinos the First Graduates of Language Institute
Learning a new language requires a lot of work and can often be intimidating, especially for adults. Recently 10 Filipino agricultural laborers, who are no strangers to hard work, took the challenge of immersing themselves in an English language course.
On Thursday night all 10 students graduated from the first English Immersion course offered though the Molokai Language Institute. The program is based on the curriculum used by the Maui Language Institute and is offered through the Molokai Education Center. The four-week, intensive course was taught by Elizabeth Lawrence and qualifies the students for enrollment in MCC’s college-level English courses.
All of the graduates are employees of Monsanto and were reimbursed by the company for the tuition cost of $100. Monsanto/Hawaiian Research General Manager Ray Foster was on hand to congratulate his employees and inform them that Monsanto will continue to pay for their English education if they choose to enroll at MCC. Foster said he was impressed that his employees were willing to complete such a rigorous course in addition to their full-time jobs.
In their graduation speeches all the graduates commented on how valuable their new English skills would be at work. For at least some of the graduates further education seemed unlikely.
“I don’t know, we’re working everyday, so it’s hard. We’ll see.” said Consuelo Tamura, a graduate who gave her age as “sixty-something.”
Donna Haytko-Paoa, education coordinator at MCC came up with the idea for the language institute by looking at her enrollment numbers and realizing that the students at MCC didn’t reflect the demographics of Molokai. The most obvious disparity was within the Filipino population. Filipinos make up about 27 percent of the population, but only 7 percent of the students at MCC.
Haytko-Paoa got funding assistance from the Molokai Rural Development Project, which job training and skills enhancement is a primary goal.
“We’re hoping that we’ll get enough interest to continue it next year and et beyond RDP funding,” said Lahela Han, RDP program support associate.
The graduates are: Philipa Afelin, Maria Banglatan, Joann Bumatay, Delia Domingo, Gerry Guzman, Jovelina Ilaban, Consolacion Lagazo, Aristotle Oamil, Jovita Rodolfo, Consuelo Tamura.