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The Language of Friendship – ESL at RCC

Kathy Pourkomami and Rocio Jiminez

Kathy Pourkomami and Rocio Jiminez haven’t let a language barrier stand in the way of friendship.

They met in English as a Second Language classes at Rogue Community College, and while learning English, the two women developed a bond based on shared interests and values: family, honesty, education, and hard work.

The two recently participated in a traveling exhibit highlighting ESL students’ experiences, produced by Southern Oregon Historical Society in cooperation with RCC. “Stories of Home” showed at the Rogue Valley Mall in July and the Rogue Valley International Airport through mid-August. Here, they each share their experience at RCC and their new-found friendship.

For more information about ESL classes at RCC, call the RCC Learning Center nearest you: 541-245-7701 in Medford; 541-245-7820 in White City; 541-956-7253 in Grants Pass; and 541-956-7455 in the Illinois Valley. Or visit www.roguecc.edu/ABS/ESL.asp.

By Kathy Pourkhomami and Rocio Jimenez

My name is Kathy Pourkomami. I came here two years ago from Iran for my children's education. My son will be a junior in Ashland High School. My daughter was taking ESL classes at RCC with me and is now in Adult Basic Education and credit classes.  

English classes at RCC have helped me a lot. I have more confidence living in my new culture, and I have found new friends. I met Rocio, who is my best friend – like a sister. Sometimes we need to talk with our hands or look up a word on the iPad, but we understand each other. We invite each other to our homes with our families.

Recently, I started working at Qzeen Armenian Deli and Cafe in Medford. I speak English with the customers. My future plans with my family are not definite, but one idea is to open a bakery with Iranian food.

My name is Rocio Jiminez.  I came here 12 years ago from Mexico City to be more secure and for the best life for my kids.

I have been taking ESL classes for three years and credit vocational ESL and Early Childhood Education classes for one and a half years. My goal is to get my pre-school Child Development Associate (credential) in English this year. I already have it in Spanish. I’ve worked 11 years in the childcare field. I would like to work in a school as a teacher where I can use my child development and bilingual skills.

I am so proud of my kids. My son graduated from North Medford High School in 2011. He is working and taking RCC classes. My daughter is a senior at North Medford High School and is an excellent student. She is working as well. They are very responsible kids. During the school year, my husband works at Oregon Childhood Development Coalition, and in the summer he volunteers at Kids Unlimited.

I think ESL class at RCC is the best part of my life here in the U.S. In ESL class I found my “sister,” Kathy, and a lot of friends from different cultures like China, Indonesia, and South Korea. Because of ESL classes, I am more comfortable, more sure. Now I can be in any situation.