Beyond Learning: ESL Classes Help Students Connect with Others and Feel Supported

“English has always been my weak spot. Plus, it’s a good excuse to be in the library.” Evangelina “Eva” Cox smiles as she talks about the Mission Library and the ESL classes she took there for two years.

“I went twice a week. The instructors were supportive, but so were the students. We wanted one another to succeed,” she says.

But to Eva, that comes as no surprise.

“The Library offers a connection, not just to books, but to others. It’s a place where people feel welcomed, not discriminated against. It’s a place where everyone is encouraged to do their best,” she continues.

At age 70, Eva has made many meaningful connections, many of which began at libraries, over the years. She’s taught elementary school in Nogales, started a library at the Instituto Tecnológico de Nogales, studied library science in Mexico City, and volunteered at local libraries in Chula Vista, California.

A Tucson resident for more than 20 years, she’s touched the lives of many. At the Tucson Urban League, she worked as a driver taking local seniors shopping and to activities. In the kitchen at St. Luke’s Home, she lovingly cared for residents and, in the library at Tucson High School, she formed strong bonds with Spanish-speaking students who turned to her for book recommendations.

“Libraries are designed to help people to do their best," she says. "I learned so much at the classes I took. And I still go to the Mission and Quincie Douglas Libraries. Sometimes, I see a flier for a program and I just want to yell, ‘My goodness look how you’re helping people!’”

When asked what’s next for her, Eva replies, “I might consider taking computer classes,” and then laughs, “I definitely need them, even though I don’t want them. At least I know there are plenty offered at the library.”

One thing’s for sure, Eva is not ready to close the book on her life’s story. “It’s easy to get sad or bored at home. I need to do something.”

Whatever her next chapter brings, the Library is proud to be a part of it.

Do you or someone you know want to take English Language classes? Find one at your local library!