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Looking for a Few Good Mexican Adult Learners and Their Mentors

By Fran Mahoney

Last spring, La Biblioteca started a pilot program for Mexican adults who have completed at least secundaria, (high school) have a current Biblioteca membership, are 25 years old or older, and want to learn. Now we are ready to offer the program on an ongoing basis. The program is open to six adults and their mentors, takes about four months to complete, and is free to students. It will end in December.

Students decide with the mentor what they would like to learn in the area they have chosen. While La Biblioteca cannot grant credit, those who complete the requirements of the program will receive a certificate in a public ceremony at La Biblioteca. Each certificate outlines three major accomplishments that the student has achieved and thus is unique to each student. For those who have finished prepa (preparatory) and wish to go on to college, this certificate adds value to their university application.

A description in Spanish is available to each adult who applies. Program descriptions and forms are available at La Biblioteca’s front office. Completed applications should be returned to Octavio López at La Biblioteca by August 26, 2015. The actual program will begin in September.

Now about the mentors. While we cannot predict the learning choices of Mexican adults accepted for the program, we are looking for bilingual mentors who have a strong background, either through formal college learning or related work experience, in the areas that students might be interested in so that we can match mentor expertise with student choices for learning. We need bilingual mentors because they have to communicate with the student and with me. (By the way: the students last time spoke some or a lot of English.) Almost any area of advance study, including philosophy, literature, engineering (of various kinds), computing, medicine, and ecology, is on the list. This past spring, we had students who studied computing, home health care, and the relationship between Mexican natives and the Spanish conquistadores.

What are the responsibilities of mentors?

1. To meet with the student and determine what he/she is interested in learning and translate that into at least three learning outcomes.

2. To agree on a schedule and a place for your meetings so that you can make progress in the area of study.

3. To help identify any needed resources, such as books or websites to aid in the learning.

4. To serve as an encourager and practitioner in the area of study.

5. To communicate problems and successes to the program head.

6. To attend one meeting per month (usually on Saturday morning at La Biblioteca) for four months, with the student and other mentors and students to report on progress and offer encouragement and help to all students attending.

If you are interested in serving as a mentor now or in the future, please contact me at


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