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San Diego Site Director Ryan Forletta at the US-Mexico border fence.

Program Overview

Through working with several migrant shelters in Tijuana, MX as part of SSP’s Adventure Wednesday program in San Diego, our partners identified the need for resources that would reduce language barriers for migrant populations. As the pandemic continued and our connections were sustained over Zoom, the Teaching English to Migrants (TEM) program was born as a part of the Border Church’s Virtual Attention Program.

San Diego’s strong economy and location has attracted immigrants from all over the world, particularly from Mexico and Latin America. Many of these people reside in the border city of Tijuana as migrants while working to legally immigrate to the United States, sometimes for years on end. While some do become employed by San Diego’s universities or high tech industries, many find employment in low-wage service, construction, or industrial jobs. Equipping migrants with English language skills helps to increase job prospects and reduce underemployment for skilled workers.

Providing free, consistent, and ongoing volunteer English instruction virtually to residents of migrant shelters in Tijuana is one of the new ways SSP is living into our mission to build faith and strengthen communities through service to others!

Program Details

  • Objective: To activate volunteers in support of migrant shelters in Tijuana, MX, some of SSP’s partners through our San Diego program. By developing English language skills, migrants living in a border region increase their job prospects and have more opportunity to become self-sustaining.
  • Logistics: This program is facilitated by Ryan Forletta (staff alum) and Pastor Guillermo Navarrete (Tijuana community contact). Adult English classes take place weekly over Zoom. Participate as a volunteer in a variety of capacities, including teaching, support instruction, curriculum planning, and becoming English practice partners or pen pals.
  • Get Involved: Complete the interest form below and attend an introductory session on Fridays at Noon Pacific starting January 15! Groups and individuals are also encouraged to become financial sponsors of this program to cover direct costs, such as class supplies and facilitator stipends. Complete the donation form at the bottom of this page.

Meet TEM’s Coordinators:

2020 friendship bracelet fundraiser for Tijuana migrant shelters

Ryan Forletta

Ryan (left) is a student at University of California, Santa Barbara studying Education and Spanish. He coordinates program curriculum and instruction, as well as integrates volunteers helping with the courses. Ryan has served on SSP staff in San Diego three consecutive years, building ongoing partnerships with local leaders.

Rev. Guillermo Navarrete guiding SSP volunteers in 2019

Rev. Guillermo Navarrete

Rev. Guillermo Navarrete is a Pastor at El Faro, The Border Church / La Iglesia Fronteriza in Tijuana, MX. Guillermo coordinates the class facilitators of the migrant shelters, student engagement, and supplies needed locally for instruction. He acts as the liaison between the shelters and SSP, ensuring the program meets the needs of the students.

Learn More

To learn more about the comprehensive efforts underway to support migrant communities, read The Border Church Operation Report from November 2020. In addition to the TEM English classes, current ongoing work includes computer room installation for each shelter, advocacy meetings, Bible studies, and counseling support.

Financially Support TEM

Support SSP’s new Teaching English to Migrants program financially; 85% of your donation cover direct costs of the shelters, and the remaining 15% will contribute to SSP’s staffing and overhead costs. Thank you for getting this program off the ground running, supporting a new way to serve.