On Wednesdays, Cosumnes River College English professor Heather Hutcheson and a few students from her class meet at a local Home Depot in order to help undocumented workers learn English.
In return, the workers teach Hutcheson and her students Spanish. The class time is divided into 30 minutes per language.
“When I was on sabbatical last semester in Mexico I was immersed in speaking Spanish,” Hutcheson said. “When I returned I really wanted to continue learning Spanish and I figured if I was going to continue doing it I might as well find people with whom I can share English and other people who would be willing to come with me.”
On Feb. 6 Hutcheson approached a group of undocumented workers in front of the Home Depot on Florin road and suggested the educational exchange.
“So I came out here one day and asked if they wanted to have classes and they said yes,” Hutcheson said. “They couldn’t really believe I was going to come back but I did and every time I’ve had a few students with me and we’ve had an opportunity to meet new people and learn a little about another language.”
Daniel Ramirez, a 42-year-old migrant worker said that he likes that the class has helped him be more outgoing and he enjoys helping the students learn Spanish.
“My little son reads to me in English and I help him in mathematics,” Ramirez said.
“I think this is another example of a very dynamic learning environment where we’ve had some very powerful conversations about peoples goals, dreams and lives,” Hutcheson said. “ We’ve had conversations where its a little more superficial and not in depth, it varies and I think there’s a lot to learn.”
Annalise Burney, a 24-year-old business administration major, came through word of mouth by professor Hutcheson and admits to needing a little extra credit. “I’m actually glad that I came out here, it’s really interesting. I feel like I’m having fun instead of doing something for homework.”
At the end of class professor Hutcheson gives the migrant workers english homework and they give her and her students homework in Spanish.
Gonzalo Rivas, a 70-year-old migrant worker, shared some wisdom with the group.
“A winner never quits and a quitter never wins,” Rivas said.“If you know where you’re going there is room in the world for you. If you don’t know where you’re going everywhere you go is going to be full.”