The Colorado School of English is doing more than just helping foreign students master the complex language of English. It's also teaching them to give back to the communities that help them. As part of the service learning component of the curriculum, students do a volunteer project every twelve weeks; in February, they visited the Grant Avenue Street Reach Soup Kitchen at 1600 Grant Street, close by the school's downtown facility. "They all wrote about their experience volunteering and we received some amazing essays," says Zolo Jones, student services coordinator and academic advisor at the school. "Most of our students have never volunteered in their countries and this concept is somewhat new to them, so this experience made a very positive impression on them."
And on us, when we read their essays, which we'll be sharing this week. See also: Among the Mongols -- steppe by steppe, the hordes are descending on Denver
The Colorado School of English was founded in 1992; it currently has students from over thirty countries, ranging in age from sixteen to sixty, with no more than 15 percent of the students from a single country. "A lot of our students come here to learn English to matriculate into U.S. colleges and universities," says Jones, "but we have several resident students, au pair students who study part-time. There are about 400 student who finish our program and go onto universities and/or return back to their countries every year."
Oyuka is from Mongolia; here's the essay she wrote about her experience at Grant Street:
There were about 1000 people lining to get served with food, there was even a pregnant woman. What surprised me was this church wasn't state funded, so the food and canned products come from big restaurant chains to help homeless people. It was the very first volunteering I had done in my entire life. And there were some interesting things that came up to my mind.
First, I have never imagined that there would be a lot of homeless people in the U.S. Considering that the U.S. is the world's biggest economy, poor people must be helped somehow. Currently, I live in Japan and there is no one who goes homeless. Everyone has managed to has his or her own shelter and food.
Second, it was so exciting that there were so many kind-hearted people who are willing to help homeless people. It is a very nice thing that human beings help each other out when they are they are in difficult situations. I wish this serving food for homeless continue for a long time.
On the other hand, what I thought is just giving away free food can't help to improve poor people's condition. If they get food easily for free, they'll become more lazy. There will be no passion to earn money and get education. Plus, the city doesn't seem to be very safe, so the unsafe streets are nurturing and giving births to homeless people. The government should try little harder to help every citizen to have a qualified life.
Lastly, I would like to say that it was a very fine opportunity to help people and know about cultural differences. By volunteering in the church, I ended up saying too many tomatoes and potatoes because I served food and asked what would they like. They smiled and thanked me and I thought that "Homeless people are actually nice" They are just human beings who deserve good.
Keep reading for another response.
Marion is from France:
Yesterday, I did volunteering with a "soup kitchen" in Denver. It was very interesting and absorbing to meet homeless people and help them.
There were a lot of people and I was really surprised. In France, we also help homeless people by serving soup or giving food with the association "Les restos du Coeur."
I think it is very good to help people who need it, and I will try to do this more often. I liked to be useful, and I loved to see that people were happy to be helped.
Some homeless talked with me and were very nice with me. They asked me some questions about me and I asked them, too.
They thanked me and it made me very happy.
I found that the food offered was very good and healthy. I was surprised with the quality and the quantity because we served almost one thousand people. I felt safety, but there was just one guy a little bit scary because he looked drunk or maybe he took some drugs. I was not comfortable with him but all the other people were very nice and grateful.
I think it was a very good experience and I want to do that again. We should do that more often because we just have to give the time for them, it's nothing for us.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Watch for more essays tomorrow.