“It’s one thing to read in class, but he is a very important man and I am nervous, maybe I should mail it?”
Guillermo Castillo, a student in the Advanced English Language Learner (ELL) class at Neighborhood House is watching the clock, waiting for the moment that Governor Mark Dayton will enter the room to meet his class. In preparation for the Governor’s visit on Tuesday morning, three ELL classes of different English language abilities prepared statements and elected a spokesperson to share them with the governor, and Guillermo was selected by his classmates for this honor.
For the first time since he was a Minnesota Senator (2001-2007), Mark Dayton visited the Wellstone Center to learn more about the work of Neighborhood House. The Governor met with participants, staff, and board members from Neighborhood House’s many program areas and toured with President Nancy Brady. During his visit, Governor Dayton spent time sharing stories of his pet dog with children in morning childcare, spoke with staff about food insecurity in the recently renovated food market, and met with Brian Lira, a former member of the Latin Kings who left gang life through the help of GRIP (Neighborhood House’s Gang Reduction and Intervention Program) and recently completed his degree at St. Paul College.
Toward the end of his visit the Governor joined an ELL class to hear from the students, immigrants and refugees from throughout the world, about their experiences with Neighborhood House. After listening to Guillermo, and student representatives from two other classes, Dayton asked questions about where the students were from and thanked them for their commitment to building a stronger community.
“It’s important to learn English to meet your goals, but learning a new language is a big challenge. We’re so glad you’re here, you’re making our state stronger by bringing the world to Minnesota.”
After class the students flocked to Dayton to take photographs, and talk with him about their experiences. Guillermo, so nervous only moments before, gave the Governor a warm handshake and a bright smile and thanked him for visiting Neighborhood House.
More photos of Governor Dayton’s visit to Neighborhood House can be viewed here. Visit our Instagram page to see a “class picture” our ELL students took with the Governor, and to read the message that Guillermo shared on behalf of his classmates.