On Sunday, January 31st, the TRUU Social Action Committee sponsored a very moving service with guest speakers Jon Fox-Rubin and Alexandra Magaña from the Valley Settlement Project and Lara Beaulieu from English in Action. The theme of the service was Con Respeto (With Respect), which is both the title of a book about the Mexican immigrant experience in the US and part of our first UU Principle, “Respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” As I have come to know the Roaring Fork Valley, I have seen that it is vitally important that we find ways of bridging the cultures that are here, and addressing genuine and painful separations and inequalities.
Alejandra Magaña’s powerful personal story moved many of us to tears, as she fought to not cry herself, describing her painful situation when she arrived here from Mexico three years ago knowing no English: her fear of even stepping outside her house, her helplessness, her depression, and her son’s experience in elementary school as a child who knew no English, and her inability to help him or even speak with the teacher. Alejandra’s life here is a remarkable success story: in the short time she has been here she has become fluent in English, and she is now directing the Lifelong Learning Spanish language adult education program at the Valley Settlement Project.
Lara Beaulieu described the English in Action program, which provides free English language practice to Spanish speakers with volunteer English-speaking tutors. There are almost no places in the valley where Spanish speaking adults can learn English without paying fees, so English in Action is providing an essential service. I was horrified when she told us that there are 120 Spanish speakers waiting for a tutor, especially after hearing Alejandra’s story. I hope some of us at TRUU will consider becoming a volunteer with English in Action, and getting to know our hard working, and economically challenged, neighbors.