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Language Camp begins with a song

Sidhart Kishnamurthi and his mother, Deepa Iyengar, from San Francisco, help students from the Austin area with English language skills Monday during the Global Volunteers Language Camp 2011 held at Riverland Community College.

It was still early when this year’s Language Camp got under way Monday morning in the cafeteria in the East Building of Riverland Community College in Austin.

The task of getting the students organized for the day’s schedule fell mostly to Rosa Narvaez, and she moved through the crowd with the dedication of a den mother. The kids were already having a great time.

It was the start of a busy day and a busy week in the 10th annual program that serves as a refresher course in English for 55 young students who live in homes where families speak Spanish.

"It gives them a jump start for school," said Maryanne Law, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin and a prime force in the program.

The program is supported by the Hormel Foundation, and meals are supplied by Hormel Foods Corp. The effort is bolstered each year by members of Global Volunteers, an organization with 27,000 members who serve on six continents. This year’s group included women from Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; the Chicago area; Batavia, Ill.; Sayre, Pa.; Rye Brook, N.Y.; Saratoga, Calif.; and Ottawa, Canada.


Law says the program has three primary goals: 1) To make the students feel welcome; 2) To increase their ability to be successful in school; and 3) To encourage them and their parents to look beyond graded and high school to college as a natural part of their lives.

The week’s schedule will include attendance at a law enforcement training day that prepares police officers to distinguish between situations that are dangerous and those that are not; a visit to the Frank W. Bridges Theatre, which will find them back stage with performers; a visit to Ellis Middle School that will include lunch; a library-sponsored Zoo Man program; and, for the older students, a geocaching activity at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

At the end of the week, parents will be invited to see a program put on by their children.

Before leaving the cafeteria, students gave an enthusiastic performance of the Language Camp theme song:

"We are children of the world

and we live in the U.S.A.

We learn, we work, we play.

And we’re getting smarter every day."


In a session at the end of the first day, volunteers offered their assessment of the students they worked with and will be working with through the week.

"They are very smart. They are so well-behaved. And they made us feel very welcomed."

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