Beginning New Journeys

The new semester of YHI (Yo Hablo Ingles English Language Learning classes) has launched! Adults from the community filled our entryway as they lined up for orientation. Excitement swirled through the winter air as many new students arrived to begin this new journey. By the end of the semester they will have gained important English skills, learned through collaboration and engaged in leadership building exercises.


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Empowering neighbors through language

“On the first day I was nervous and happy to start learning and perfect my English,” reflects Felix as he remembers his first day as a student. He began learning English in our new classes last September. Now fast forward sixteen weeks and Felix is a proud graduate, “I can start conversations at work. I can say numbers and months. I can make appointment for my child. It’s been an excellent experience.”


Yo Hablo Ingles (YHI) is the very first ELL adult program of its kind offered at Casa Chirilagua. It has been made possible through the incredible leadership of German and Paola Gomez along with Edgar Lopez-Jimenez from The Mission Continues, and many other dedicated volunteers. Students learned English language skills based on their abilities, ranging from basic grammar and conversation up to communicating with their children’s teachers and landlords, applying for a lease and discussing weekend plans.

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Warm Christmas Celebration Memories

By Adriana Gómez Schellhaas


“I’ve been waiting for you!” I look over to see two people adorned in silly holiday attire. They are a friend and mother of one of my students calling out to me! After a few snaps of the shutter another voice chimes in, “I’d like a picture with you as well!” Before I know it, I have taken pictures with five different families – all of them an important part of my life.


Every year at the Casa Chirilagua Christmas celebration our tradition is to have a fun photo booth. Kids pose in silly holiday attire while families pose in their more serious attire – and sometimes vice versa! We as staff get invited into each their memories and have shared this tradition for years now, each year creating new ones.

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The Heart of Casa Club

By Teddi Beschel


This fall Casa Chirilagua expanded and relaunched our middle school program, Casa Club. Not only did we revamp the program, but I made my first appearance with Casa as the Youth Programs Coordinator. With a new program, new participants and myself being the new coordinator, I had no idea what to expect. Casa Chirilagua staff strongly emphasize creating a safe place for youth to work on academics while building positive supportive community. However I wondered whether the teens would buy into this message or not. Would Casa Club consist of students attending because their parents told them to? Or could it be something more?

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