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Career & Technical School News

Capital Region BOCES Adult Ed is the United Nations of education

Provides educational opportunities to adults from more than 80 countries

Liebsen studies

You could say that Capital Region BOCES is the United Nations of education in the region.

BOCES' Adult Education Program, which operates out of the Career and Technical School (CTE) campus in Colonie and also has several outposts across the region, serves students from 81 different countries. To put that figure in perspective, there are only 196 recognized countries in the world (195 if you don't recognize Taiwan).

The vast majority of the international student delegation at BOCES is served in adult education's (English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESL) and the High School Equivalency (HSE) test classes.

One of those students is Bassam Moqbel, a 37-year-old recent immigrant from Yemen who is taking English as a New Language (ENL) classes.

"I like it. BOCES helps people learn and get a job and integrate into the community," said the Troy resident.

Another adult education student with an international heritage is Bridget Liebson of Ballston Spa. While she has been in the United States since 1984, a combination of life commitments kept her until recently from pursuing a high school diploma.Moqbel

“Knowledge is good. I enjoying reading and talking with my husband about current affairs and what I have learned,” she said.

'We have an extremely diverse student body," said Nancy Jones, retired program manager for the adult education program, adding that the languages spoken by the students are as diverse.

"We have 60 different dialects spoken by our students, from Dari spoken by our Afghan students to Cantonese spoken by some of our Chinese students to Urdu and Arabic spoken by our students from Pakistan," said Dr. Valerie Kelsey, deputy director of the Career and Technical Education at BOCES. CTE oversees the adult education program.

The self-paced HSE and ENL courses are offered at a variety of locations and are taught by certified educators. The classes are offered free of charge to students. On average, 80-plus students graduate annually from one of the two classes.

In 2016, Kelsey said, 47 adults graduated from the HSE program and 39 graduated from the ESL program.

"We give them the tools necessary to pass the HSE tests and understand the English language to a degree that they can speak and write well. It's an important boost to the adults who want to integrate and build on their careers," she said.

For Moqbel, that will mean further education as he seeks to transition from working in a warehouse to running a business.

"I want to do many things in my life — continue my education and do business administration or photography. Taking pictures is one of the things I love doing in my life," he said.

For Liebson, the HSE diploma is about taking care of unfinished business.

“When I was young, I was always busy. I never had time. I came here with two young kids and I had a third. I went to cosmetology school and I always worked,” she said. “Now that I don’t have any kids at home, I have time.”

In the top photo, Liebsen studies. The second photo shows Moqbel.




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