By Kaelanne Jordan
The Living Water Community (LWC) is providing beginner-level Spanish classes to members of the public who need to communicate with Spanish speakers for the purposes of work. These online classes are free of charge and will be taught by trained and experienced native Spanish speakers.
Courses are 30 hours/5 weeks long/15 2-hour sessions and begins the week of June 1, 2020. Participants who complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Shivonne DuBarry Community Based Protection Officer, Living Water Community, Ministry for Migrants and Refugees said that registration began May 13 and ended May 22.
“We had to stop applications because we were at 954 applicants and increasing rapidly,” she said via email.
Of the 954 persons who applied, 80 students were chosen for the 80 spaces available. All successful applicants have been informed, DuBarry said.
Priority, she explained, was given to persons already working with the target population. As a result of the online mode of teaching, they are able to include students from all across Trinidad and Tobago.
The aim of this session is to increase the ability of Trinbagonian professionals in key sectors to facilitate communication with Spanish-speaking migrants and refugees while enhancing their understanding of Latin culture.
Participants include health professionals, law enforcement, the social sector (including NGOs, civil servants, volunteers from faith-based organisations including parish ministries for migrants and refugees). DuBarry said the curricula have been designed to introduce language that these persons need in order to interact with Spanish speakers while performing their duties.
“So, for example, doctors, nurses and health administrators will learn language needed to do triage and ask questions to make a diagnosis; law enforcement officials will learn how to give directions and fill out a form with an individual in Spanish,” she said.
The five-week long course will be facilitated by two native Spanish speaking teachers: Bettssy is from Cuba, and Samira from Venezuela—who have been trained by LWC and The University of the West Indies (UWI) under the Community Resilience Initiative (CRI). They have experience teaching in their home countries as well as Trinidad and Tobago in addition to professional teaching certification.
DuBarry further added that this initiative is part of the CRI funded by USAID and managed by Democracy International. LWC is a subgrantee of this award and uses it to implement the following projects for both Trinbagonians and migrants and refugees: Spanish classes; English classes; psychosocial support via counselling and other activities; provision of information via an online platform and other methods; training in skills such as Psychological First Aid and Psychosocial Support; social cohesion activities to bring communities together such as cooking and dance; youth education for both Trinbagonian and migrant and refugee young people aged 15-25.
The Living Water Community will be running additional cycles of these Spanish courses in the future since the demand is overwhelming.