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Familiar Faces: Emilio Alonso Martinez Gutierrez

Alonso Martinez is well-known by visitors of El Sauce's Los Altos de Ocotal for his advanced English skills and welcoming smile. A recipient of The Friend's Project's education scholarship, Alonso has finished his secondary school and is now studying English at UNAN León. We sat down to interview Alonso about his plans for English and development in the community of Ocotal. When we asked Alonso what his childhood was like, he expressed that his English studies were a prominent part. "It was good because I could study in my community. It was easier for me [than for some other children studying in Ocotal] because I didn't have to walk a lot to go to school. My childhood was happy because my whole family helped me with my studies."

Alonso shared with us that he decided to study English because it is an important part of his life and a way to help his family. "I want to get a job that uses English and make some money to support myself and my family." He thinks that English will help him in his future career because it will allow him to "talk to American people and to work as a tourist guide here in the cooperative." Alonso thinks that English will help his community in Ocotal because people like himself who can speak in English will be able to translate for the visitors from places like the United States. He also thinks that he could possibly become an English teacher for some of the children in Ocotal. When asked about his studies in the university, Alonso responded, "That is a long story because when I was in my second year of high school, I didn't like the language or the career, but little by little I grew to like it more. It is currently my favorite subject. I am in my second year of studies in the university and I also study here in my community."

Alonso shared with us that although he sometimes finds it difficult to communicate with English speakers due to the speed at which they speak, he is gradually getting better at understanding them. Alonso is the son of Emiliano Martinez, a local coffee farmer of Ocotal. As a member of the Los Altos de Ocotal cooperative, the family opens their home to visitors and students as a host family. "When some Americans stay at my house, I talk to them and they feel more comfortable because they can have at least a short conversation with me and ask questions about my family and tell me about their families." Enlace Project English School is very proud of Alonso and his progression with his English studies. His story, like that of many others who study at the Enlace Project English School, represents our growth since our doors opened in 2009. His newfound appreciation for the English language and new cultural experiences reflect the hopes we have for our English students today. With graduation from both our program and the university in Alonso's near future we congratulate him on all of his accomplishments and encourage him to keep up the good work.

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