Boulder's Intercambio helps 8,000 immigrants find their way

Article author: 
Steve Raabe
Article publisher: 
Denver Post
Article date: 
13 December 2012
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

Six students in a tiny Boulder classroom sit around a table, holding an intelligent discussion about a magazine article on social media.

The classroom's common language is English, but the accents come from around the globe — China, South Korea, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan.

At the nonprofit Intercambio: Uniting Communities, students are linked by a desire to speak better English and assimilate into American culture.

"The first step is to improve myself and help myself be a part of the community," said student Claudia Aguilar, an immigrant from Mexico.

Since it opened its doors in 2001, Boulder-based Intercambio has helped 8,000 immigrants from 45 countries get a linguistic and cultural foothold in the U.S.

"We want to make sure that immigrants are participating and contributing, as opposed to scared and fearful," said Intercambio executive director and co-founder Lee Shainis ...

Intercambio now holds about 350 classes a week, some of them group, some one-on-one. The organization's administrative staff of 12 is supplemented by 400 to 500 volunteer teachers.