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ESL Students Collaborate to Produce Inspiring Children’s Book

Students in CNM’s ESL Conversation Group were honored at the 2019 New Mexico Legislative Session for their work on creating the children’s book, ‘CNM Small World.’
ESL Students Collaborate to Produce Inspiring Children’s Book
ESL Conversation Group Students want to eliminate the sigma surrounding immigrants but helping to educate children at an early age.

Mar 21, 2019

Imagine coming to a new country where no one speaks your language and you’re trying to function, adjust and communicate in a new society. It is no easy feat. Just ask the English as a Second Language (ESL) students who participate in an ESL Conversation Group at CNM’s Montoya Campus.

The ESL Conversation Group is offered through the Assistance Centers for Education, home to CNM’s tutors. The group was created to supplement the ESL courses offered at CNM, but they are open to anyone in the community who wants to learn or improve their English.

“It can be daunting moving to a new country and not being able to verbally communicate,” says Laura Jijon, an English teacher and ACE tutor. “Most of our students are highly intelligent with degrees from other countries, but they can’t apply their skills here yet because of the intricacies of language barriers within their fields.”

Most of the participants within the groups, knowing little to no English, are immigrants who fled conflict in their native countries and/or are looking for better opportunities here in the U.S.

“There is a lot of anti-immigrant rhetoric being spread around the world today. So, our students thought it’d be a good idea to create a children’s book that would nurture the idea of acceptance and tolerance of immigrants,” Laura says.

And so, the group of students began producing a children’s book titled “CNM Small World.” One of the primary authors, Yuen Ni Lin of Taiwan, based the main character of the book on her friend who is an immigrant, single mother and CNM student.

“I wanted to show children at a young age that immigrants are humans just like everyone else,” says Yuen. “I want to remove the stigma that so many immigrants face when looking for a better life in a new country.”

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ESL student and graphic artist, Nelson Campos Macias, composed all the illustrations in the book.

Nelson Campos Macias of El Salvador is a graphic artist and the primary illustrator of the book. The 19-year-old says that being able to apply his skillset to something tangible that will benefit the community is truly rewarding.

“I was glad to able to work on this book and to use my talents to create something that will educate children on the value of immigrants in contemporary society,” Nelson says.

Nelson is also a participant of the High School Equivalency (HSE) Study Group at ACE and he plans to take the GED exam soon. After attaining his GED, Nelson wants to enroll in CNM’s Architecture Program.

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Both Yuen and Nelson said they were deeply touched and honored by their recognition at the Roundhouse.

Both Yuen and Nelson were invited to Adult Education Day at the 2019 Legislative Session in Santa Fe, where they were honored for their work on “CNM Small World.” They received certificates from the New Mexico Adult Education Association as Outstanding Students.

“I was nervous at first, but ultimately I was very honored and proud to be recognized for my work,” Yuen says. “I am still learning how to speak English in everyday life and it can be hard for me to communicate but this experience has helped to boost my confidence.”

Laura says that seeing her students grow and thrive within our community is why she loves her job at ACE. She says that seeing them become contributing members of our community is what the ESL programs are all about.

“What always makes me happy, is when my students find who they are,” she says. “To have students feel comfortable and welcomed and feel worthwhile just highlights the whole experience for me.”

“CNM Small World” was recently presented to a group of children from nearby Noah’s Ark Children’s Academy during a Suncat Story Time event for children at Montoya Campus. Laura said it got rave reviews.

“The kids didn’t want to leave. They were here for hours,” she says. “The teachers from Noah’s Ark kept asking, ‘When can we do this again?’”

Learn more about CNM’s ACE Tutoring Centers.