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Adult learners visit State Capitol

Six Alexandria-area Adult Basic Education (ABE) learners and a volunteer tutor visited the State Capitol in St. Paul recently.

The group was part of Literacy Minnesota's 2009 Legislative Forum: Changing Lives; Changing Communities, which offered students a chance to thank their legislators for the opportunities afforded them by Minnesota's ABE programs and to learn about the legislative process.

The students, Beatriz Hadler from Colombia, Galina Tait and Natasha Muzyro from Russia, Guandencio Cortes from Mexico, Ariane Fucci-Wady from Brazil, and Nisha Boban from India, are enrolled in the Alexandria Adult Basic Education's English as a Second Language program and the Alexandria Literacy Project.

They were accompanied by Rollie Finke, a teacher and volunteer tutor in the program.

The legislative forum was designed for the learners to become educated about the U.S. legislative process and lobby the legislators for continued funding for Adult Basic Education.

The learners heard from several legislators from across the state and met personally with Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen and Representatives Torrey Westrom and Mary Ellen Otremba to tell them about the importance of adult education in our community.

"All our learners did an exceptional job communicating with the legislators; they represented themselves and their school with pride and honor," said Finke, an English as a Second Language teacher.

All learners at the legislative forum are part of Finke's weekly English class and work individually with tutors. Several learners have already obtained U.S. citizenship, and all have become more proficient English speakers during their time in the program.

Alexandria ABE and the Alexandria Literacy Project, a non-profit organization partially funded by United Way, are dedicated to helping adults with basic literacy and math skills, English as a Second Language, GED preparation, etc.

For more information about adult basic education programs and volunteer opportunities, call the Runestone Regional Learning Center at (320) 762-0627.