LASO connects students, Aramark

Tutors help workers with English skills

The Latin and American Student Organization (LASO) recently started a program partnering AU student volunteers with Aramark workers to help them improve their English.

Community Learners Advancing Spanish and English (CLASE), an offshoot of LASO, was a result in combining volunteers, participants and orchestration by Aaron Montenegro, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, who put the club together in order to help Aramark workers with speaking English.

CLASE program organizers said at a Nov. 12 meeting that they also hope to include computer workshops as well as tutorials about how to gain United States citizenship.

Montenegro said he revitalized the program this year in conjunction with LASO.

"Really, it all just fell into place all at once," he said. "It worked out so well."

This semester, Montenegro transferred to AU from Maryland's Montgomery College, where he established a similar program, and was pleased to find that both LASO and University Chaplain Joe Eldridge were ready to restart the Aramark tutoring program.

Eldridge said similar programs have existed over the course of his 10 years at AU, but it only exists if students make it happen.

"The program relies entirely on the interest of the students," he said. "It ebbs and flows due to them."

Meara Dietrick, a graduate student in the School of International Service, attended the Nov. 12 meeting to discuss the role of graduate students in the program.

"The graduate students just aren't on campus as much, so to have a set time each week would probably work best," she said.

While teaching English is the program's main priority, Montenegro and Eldridge said the relationship between tutors and Aramark workers is very important.

"Being a minority, I felt an obligation to help [the workers] better their skills," Montenegro said. "There is a disconnect between the students and the workers and if you look around the students are unappreciative."

Caitlin Ochs, a junior in the School of International Service who is a member of CLASE, spoke about the irregularity of the club at the meeting.

"We [the club members present at the meeting] are only here for one or two more years," she said. "We want to establish the program really well this time around. That way it has real longevity."

Ochs said that while there are currently a few tutor-student pairs, she hopes to see the project launch on a larger scale next semester. There are 45 workers who are interested in the program, she said. There are also many volunteers looking to be involved in the program. Montenegro and Ochs said they are also working to allow Aramark workers full access to the library early next year.

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