Campus: CSU Northridge -- September 29, 2004

CSUN Students are Helping Elderly Immigrants Become Citizens

Forty Cal State Northridge students are spending this fall working in senior centers or adult schools throughout the San Fernando Valley, teaching elderly immigrants the skills necessary to learn English and become U.S. citizens.

The students are taking part in Project SHINE (Students Helping In the Naturalization of Elders), which was made possible by a $45,000 two-year grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) Learn and Serve America Program. Northridge was one of only four universities nationwide to receive the grant, which came from CNCS through the Center for Intergenerational Learning at Temple University.

"SHINE is a great opportunity for CSUN students to not only make a positive difference in our community, but also to make what they learn in class applicable to real world situations," said Maureen Rubin, director of Northridge's SHINE Program, which is being coordinated by CSUN's Center for Community Service-Learning.

Students from such disciplines as anthropology, consumer studies, gerontology, health science and linguistics are working as tutors and mentors to seniors at eight senior or community centers or adult schools across the Valley, helping them learn English and other civic skills necessary for passing the citizenship exam. All SHINE students take a weekly class from English professor Sharon Klein or health science professor Debra Sheets to sharpen the skills needed to teach the elderly effectively.

"Some older learners tend to feel intimidated by normal ESL classes that may be too fast for them," Rubin said. "However, these particular classes are designed to provide seniors with an environment that fits their pace and learning needs."

Classes and small group tutoring are taking place at Van Nuys Community Adult School and ONEgeneration in Van Nuys; Meet Every Need with Dignity in Pacoima; Guadalupe Center, Hughes Adult Learning Center and Owensmouth Gardens in Canoga Park; El Camino Real/Canoga Park Community Adult School in West Hills and San Fernando High School in San Fernando.

Launched in 1998, CSUN's Center for Community-Service Learning aims to inspire, encourage and support students and faculty in their pursuit of academic excellence through involvement in meaningful community service.

For more information about Project SHINE or CSUN's Center for Community Service-Learning, visit its Web site: or call (818) 677-7305 to learn about free ESL or citizenship classes throughout the Valley.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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