Tutoring program at American University lets students become teachers

Ana Urrudia has worked at American University for fourteen years. But she doesn’t want to work for AU’s housekeeping department, Aramark, forever.

Someday, she wants to be nurse.

So she takes tutoring lessons from AU students through a program called C.L.A.S.E. which stands for Community Learners Advancing in Spanish and English.

The program, established several years ago, helps Hispanic workers at AU improve their literacy in both English and Spanish, offers computer and technology training, and helps them study for citizenship exams.

There are approximately sixty workers participating in the program while Aramark itself employs a a little more than 100 workers, many of whom are Hispanic.

“People can go from not reading or writing to doing both in one semester,” CLASE Co-Chair Julia Young said.

The program is important for fostering a sense of community and for empowering a marginalized group on campus, according to CLASE Co-Chair and Tutor Melissa Mahfouz.

“We do see relationships and friendships building between the tutor and the student,” Mahfouz said.

Student volunteers are matched with student workers based on language skills and availability. The tutoring sessions are held during hour long pre-scheduled Aramark lunch breaks.

As for Rosuda, she says learning makes her happy. She even passed her citizenship test last year.

“You can see how much we really are helping,” Young said.

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