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BUG's Alma Verde program provides education and enrichment with an environmental theme for youth at the Alma Community Center in San Jose. This program is designed specifically to provide a large number of ELSJ placement opportunities for SCU students. BUG has established an urban garden and an after school program in cooperation with the City of San Jose Department of Parks and Recreation. The Alma neighborhood is one of the most marginalized communities in the City of San Jose. SCU's presence at the Community Center through the BUG program is helping to keep the center from being closed. BUG's Alma Verde program is serving as an example of a University/City/Community partnership that has been able to grow community services during a time of severe budget crisis by pooling resources and working together.
Through the Alma Verde program, BUG seeks to develop a model for community/university/city partnerships to improve conditions in marginalized communities, create opportunities for families and youth, and establish community-based learning placements for university students.
Alma Verde After School Program
The Alma Verde after school program assists K-5 students with their homework and helps to improve the students' well being through reading and writing practice, physical activity, and environmental themed enrichment programs. These include:
After School Program Schedule
Enrichment Program Schedule
Alma Organic Garden
BUG started an organic garden at the center in the fall of 2009 and has been using it to teach youth and teens about ecology, nutrition, and environmental sustainability We have been slowly expanding the garden and are developing it into a model for urban food production where youth, seniors, and Alma neighborhood families can learn how to grow food in the city through free BUG workshops.
Comida and Conversation (Language Exchange)
Comida and Conversation is a food-based community conversation and language exchange program at the Alma Community Center. native speakers help each other to learn each other's languages through conversation practice in a relaxed setting one evening a week. This program was piloted during the winter 2011 quarter with seven Arrupe placements and a total of 34 participants. It has been very well received by all involved and could expand to an addition evening in the future to allow more people to participate.
Comida y Conversation participants sign up for 8 week sessions matching the Arrupe quarterly placement timeline. Everyone is encouraged, but not required, to bring food to share. The BUG Farm provides vegetables and fruit during the harvest season. All participants are paired up with a native speaker of the language they want to learn (we strive for 1-on-1 but occasionally have small groups depending on attendance). Everyone arrives at 5:45 and shares food and informal conversation. At 6 PM a timekeeper starts the exchange with conversation in one language for a half hour switching to the other language for the next half hour. At the end of the hour of conversational language exchange everyone helps to clean up the center. Cooperative childcare is provided.
Greening the Community Center
Along with the garden, BUG is interested in working to “green” the Alma Community Center in as many ways possible. We plan to expand the garden, encourage recycling and the use of green materials and look into ways of improving the Center’s energy efficiency and resource use. Over the long term we would like to find external funding and partners to work on a green retrofit of the Alma Community Center, establishing it as a model for greening existing buildings in the city. This could include installing solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, green materials throughout the center, rain catchment, and grey water recycling, etc.