Makeup Assignment: Community College Assists Refugees

Pima Community College offers free English classes at varying levels to help the immigrant and refugee population of Tucson. These classes, as described by Dean of Adult Education Regina Suitt, help these foreign friends have the skills necessary to succeed in the US.

Even though 6,000 people take these classes annually, Suitt says there is a waiting list to get in, and that more can be done to help these people.


Final Project: English Language Acquisition in Tucson

According to 2010 US Census data, 12.9 percent of people living in the US were born as non-US citizens in other countries. The top 10 nations that contribute these immigrants to our nation’s population are all non-English speaking countries. Imagine being dropped into a country that speaks a language entirely different than yours — it would be stressful and difficult, wouldn’t it? That’s what happens to many of these refugees and immigrants that come here.

Tucson has resources to help these people to learn English, and many of them are free. Literacy Connects is a program dedicated entirely to helping people learn English, and there are other organizations that offer many different kinds of support like the Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities. Representatives from two community programs and one immigrant all told me that learning English is essential to living well here in the US, and that these programs are critical to the success of those that are new to this country and don’t speak the language.

And while it seems that there is a lot available to help these people, some wonder if there isn’t more that can be done to help. Julio Pájaro, an immigrant from Mexico, said that he would have invested more time in learning English when he arrived if he had known more about what was offered him. Whether it was for lack of publicity of what programs already existed, or a true lack of overall resources in general is hard to say, but Pájaro said he didn’t know where to turn.

Regina Suitt, dean of adult education at Pima Community College, also said that what is currently offered isn’t sufficient for the immigrant population of Tucson. There are always waiting lists for the English language programs that Pima runs, she said. Their programs help 6,000 students each year learn English, and still they cannot fit everyone in. Suitt thinks investing in English language acquisition programs is a strong investment in the future of Tucson because most of these people are here to stay. English will help them both contribute and benefit from the local community, she said.

The following video shows the perspective of two immigrants and two community programs in Tucson. They all address English language acquisition and its importance to people that are new to the US.


This map provides contact information for different centers in Tucson that offer English classes.


A/B Roll 2: Foreign Friends

Entekhab Al Saraji is just one of thousands of refugees that has relocated to Tucson. She left Baghdad, Iraq after working with the US armed forces during the war for several years. Al Saraji used the resources the Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities offers when she arrived, and since 2012 she has been working there in various capacities. Now she is a program coordinator, and primarily oversees their operations with elderly refugees that come to Tucson.

Mapping: Crushed Dreams and Those Not Yet Fulfilled

Three years ago I had a neat experience with a wise old lady that had traveled the world. After she told me about her adventures I told her that my dream was to see the world like she had — collect fun keepsakes, take beautiful photos and fill passports with exotic stamps. Before any of that could happen however, she told me I first needed to explore my own country before seeing what the remainder of the world had to offer. I told her where I had already been, and she seemed impressed I had seen as much as I had for as young as I was. I have been fortunate to travel through most of the major cities in the western US, with a trip or two to the east. Taking her words to heart, I have devised a list of the remaining US cities I need to see and conquer before setting my sights on the rest of the world.


The University of Arizona is rife with different forms of transportation. I tend to walk to avoid the public humiliation of potentially falling or causing bodily harm to others, although I occasionally use a long board for travel across campus if I’m running low on time. Bikes are also common means of transportation on campus. Each year, many students arrive on campus with a bike they plan to use for all of their daily campus needs, only to have that bike disappear.

Bike theft is a constant issue at the UA (and presumably other universities too). There are safety measures students and faculty can take, including registering a bike model and serial number in case the bike is ever found, using extra locks, or renting a big, lockable box to put the bike in. Even still, there were 320 reported bike thefts in 2012, and countless unreported instances of bicycles being stolen.

This map plots the locations of the reported thefts in 2012. As noted in the map legend, the color of the point on the map indicates the number of thefts that occurred in that location.

A3: Free Music Lessons

Music has always been a part of Bruce Mortensen’s life — his mother was a concert pianist, he began playing the violin at age 8 and has traveled the world during his 20 years as a member of the Tucson Men’s Chorus. Now he is spending one evening a week teaching others how to read music so they can enjoy it like he does.

The class is free and takes place on Monday evenings at 7 in the Tucson Boys Chorus facilities at 5770 E. Pima St.

Mortensen is enjoying teaching others and quoted his favorite poet to his students: “Let the life you love be what you do.”

B2: A Dull Approach to a Possibly Exciting Topic

I have to start by making a quick concession regarding my assessment of this video: The New York Times is a renowned news source that focuses on accurate and informative pieces. When I bear that in mind it makes a lot of sense that this video about the new Audi A3 compact sedan wouldn’t be particularly thrilling. Accuracy requires dedication (sometimes to the point of being off-putting, really). Yet it seems strange that a publication trying to get people to watch a four minute video online that is coupled with a comprehensive written piece hasn’t spiced things up a little bit in a topic that can be equal parts exciting and completely and accurately reported.

On the whole, the piece is well done visually — particularly excellent detail shots of interior and exterior materials definitely highlight that this is a premium automobile, and they showcase the myriad features this car has. It makes me want to go test drive the car to really find out if the vent controls look, feel and sound as nice as they are in the video, and watch the navigation screen appear from the center of the dash. I feel like this is fulfilling the overall purpose of the video in the sense that I am now informed about the A3. Mission accomplished.

What the piece lacks is an overarching emotion of any kind. The voice over was a bit dry, and the music didn’t seem to enhance anything that Tom Voelk was saying. It just seemed a bit sterile, and honestly made me skeptical of all of Voelk’s notions of the sporting ability the A3 may or may not have because the music doesn’t evoke any emotion of the sort. And while the visual elements of the video made it apparent that the car is well crafted, it was ridiculous that Voelk talked about how fun the car can be to drive and all we saw were clips of the car cruising at appropriately slow speeds through neighborhoods. Beautiful as the car/neighborhoods/composition of the shots were, at least find an open road to appear to be going fast on. What I heard from Voelk and what I saw and felt were two very different things.

Again, I know that the New York Times isn’t in it for the flare and pomp of other automotive shows, but telling me the specifications of an automobile and showing me one that was barely in motion aren’t exactly what I’d call attention grabbing.