IFC English Outreach Program Successfully Launched

Janie Albright Blank - International Friendship Club
February 23, 2014

The International Friendship Club (IFC) has offered Spanish classes several days a week for many years. The classes are very popular with expats and foreign visitors spending a few winter months in Vallarta. Now a new language program is underway which offers free English classes to financially challenged members of the Mexican community.

IFC president Dan Grippo was discussing this idea last spring with friend and fellow IFC member Dan Adams when Adams mentioned that he and another volunteer, Terry Prill, had been teaching just such a class at a local church. They decided that the IFC would be the perfect home for such a program this season and after much planning and recruiting, the program has been successfully launched.

The intensive class runs for 10 weeks, three afternoons a week, until late March and is filled to capacity this season. Most of the Mexican students are adults who need English for the jobs and the course focuses on basics and practical, conversational English. The goal is to help students get comfortable with vocabulary, verbs, and basic sentence structure. Some students have a very limited knowledge of English, and for many this is their first opportunity to study it.  

Only two students of the originally 25 who were accepted have dropped out. I sat in on the class on a recent Tuesday and indeed, there were 23 enthusiastic students present. Dan Adams said, "The students were notified of the class through contacts with members of the IFC. Some of the members recommended students for the class,and some of the students themselves contacted us in Spanish. We considered their needs in learning English, and as it turned out, we accepted pretty much every student who applied up until a few days before the first class."

There is no charge for the class. The IFC provides all the materials and Dan and Terry are both generously volunteering their time and talent. They ask only that the students make a commitment to attend all the classes. So far, attendance has been amazing, beyond their expectations. And the feedback Dan and Terry have received from the students has been very rewarding.

IFC president Dan Grippo said, "This program is very dear to my own heart, a longtime dream come true, and I am grateful to Dan and Terry for being willing to step forward and dedicate many hours to making it a reality."

Dan and Terry keep the energy level high and upbeat in the class and do a great job of inspiring the students, keeping them interested so that they enjoy what they are learning. Terry says, "We do end up laughing a bit as my 'Spanglish' and Dan's hesitant, but-much-better-than-mine Spanish, gets them helping us too. We try to make it feel a bit reciprocal which gives them a hand in the class helping us improve our Spanish."

Dan Adams has a BA in Communication Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. For more than 30 years, he was a television news journalist / reporter in Northern California. The last 28 years of his career he worked for the ABC affiliate in Sacramento, until he retired and moved to PV in 2008.

Terry Prill was a marketing executive with Target Corporation for 30 years. Her teaching experience was picked up teaching basic English last year at a local church and her career experience gave her many opportunities to hone her public speaking and teaching skills in the workplace.

At this time dates have been set for next season's classes but it is expected this will become an ongoing program. Dan and Terry said that they are very pleased that the IFC has such a nice facility for this class. They feel the investment in these students will "pay itself forward" not only for these students but for the IFC as well. They would like to thank Dan Grippo, Josué Santiago,and Fred Forbes for helping them get up and running so smoothly.

For more information on the English Outreach program please email IFC member Dan Adams at danadams10@gmail.com.

The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Phone: 322-222-5466. Email is ifcvallarta@gmail.com.

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