For some clients, learning English is the largest stumbling block of all.
Crossing the Language Barrier
The Welcome Back Initiative is notable not just for its successes in major cities, but for
its efforts to expand to more rural areas such as Imperial Valley. "You can live here your whole
life and never have to speak English," said educational case worker Diahna Leon. This barrier
presents one of several needs unique to implementing the Welcome Back program in rural areas.
In addition to more severe economic constraints and limited course offerings outside major urban areas,
clients in ares such as Imperial Valley often require a great deal of monitoring and encouragement
to get them through any English courses. As Leon notes, "For many of my clients, learning English
is more intimidating than performing surgery!" English language acquisition
has emerged as a significant obstacle for Imperial Valley clients, and a significant
challenge for the Welcome Back Center there. In response to
Imperial Valley's unique client demographics, Welcome Back is planning to re-design
its program there before the end of the second year.