For the past three years, adult immigrant students from the Crystal Learning Center have been visiting Covenant Retirement Village, a senior living facility in Golden Valley. It's a unique union. Recent immigrants have bonded with seniors who have called America home their entire life.
"Anybody who reaches out to these people, immigrants who come in, is going to be blessed," said Ruth Clemmons, a Covenant resident. "They are so glad to be in America."
"People here are very nice," said Bemetria Martinez, an immigrant student from Mexico. "They try to understand us."
The students come to Covenant Village hoping to learn about the U.S. from people who grew up there.
"It's good for improving my English," said Libero Cadalino, another Mexican student. "It's very important learning English because I live in the U.S."
"We try to get them to talk about their home country because they really want to learn English," Clemmons said. "To learn English you need to talk and you need somebody talking to you."
The student-senior interaction has been invaluable for the immigrants and has helped them transition to their new country. One byproduct of these meetings is a memory quilt, which has special meaning for both the students and the seniors.
"The quilt is special," said Colleen Crossley from the Crystal Learning Center, who helped organize the project. "It captures the students' unique memories about either a place or a person that they want to memorialize on their little square."
The students have certainly learned plenty about the U.S. and have discovered some surprising things.
"They find it incredible that our children are not with us, taking care of us" Clemmons said.
The Crystal Learning Center received a grant for this program which hopes to build community and expose the students to jobs in the senior care field.
Eric Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org