Author shares experiences with ESL students

On+May+14+ESL+%28English+as+a+Second+Language%29+program+students+welcomed+author%2C+Tony+Diaz%2C++known+as+%E2%80%9CEl+Librotraficante.%E2%80%9D++He+spoke+about+his+book%2C+%E2%80%9CThe+Aztec+Love+God.%E2%80%9D++Students+shared+a+meal+and+chatted+with+the+author.
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Author shares experiences with ESL students

On May 14 ESL (English as a Second Language) program students welcomed author, Tony Diaz,  known as “El Librotraficante.”  He spoke about his book, “The Aztec Love God.”  Students shared a meal and chatted with the author.

On May 14 ESL (English as a Second Language) program students welcomed author, Tony Diaz, known as “El Librotraficante.” He spoke about his book, “The Aztec Love God.” Students shared a meal and chatted with the author.

Mariela Vargas

On May 14 ESL (English as a Second Language) program students welcomed author, Tony Diaz, known as “El Librotraficante.” He spoke about his book, “The Aztec Love God.” Students shared a meal and chatted with the author.

Mariela Vargas

Mariela Vargas

On May 14 ESL (English as a Second Language) program students welcomed author, Tony Diaz, known as “El Librotraficante.” He spoke about his book, “The Aztec Love God.” Students shared a meal and chatted with the author.

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Students gazed as he walked in, admiring the black suit that matched his professionalism. Everyone moved towards him. “Buenos Dias” (“Good Morning”). One by one they greeted him as they lined up to introduce themselves. The greeting went from English to Spanish and turned into Spanglish. All three languages ricocheted off one wall to the other classroom walls. On May 14 ESL (English as a Second Language) program students welcomed author, Tony Diaz, also known as “El Librotraficante.” He would be speaking about his book, “The Aztec Love God.”

ESL teacher Kim-Ling Sun arranged the event. Sun wanted to give her students an opportunity to meet an author who turned his passion into a career, while also being a person of color coming from an immigrant background. He also once struggled learning English.

“I truly believe we all need positive role models and mentors throughout our life. It helps us become the best version of who we were meant to be,” Sun said. “Sometimes we can feel alone in what we may be going through, and we just need words of encouragement from another who has made it to the other side,” Sun added.

Mariela Vargas
Tony Diaz, known as “El Librotraficante” read parts of his book to ESL students during a visit to the classroom. The book combines a mixture of styles and languages as well as humor, politics, and street knowledge. Diaz won the Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction in 1998.

Joining Sun, Helping Teacher Ayanna Davis and Director of Instruction Michelle Arroyo-Peterson assisted in creating this learning experience for the ESL program.

“It’s not impossible to make your dreams come true. Even though for immigrants and beginning speakers it is hard to succeed, we have fight for what we want. Life is never going to be easy, and we just have to keep going,” Sarai Briceño, junior, said.

Being the youngest child of nine, Diaz experienced the pressure an individual feels when they are the only one in the family who can speak a second language, allowing the students to relate to his personal experiences. From Chicago, Diaz grew up in an interracial neighborhood, although his family was the only Hispanic family in the neighborhood.

Mariela Vargas
Those in attendance at the Tony Diaz talk with ESL students received the chance to talk with him, one on one. They approached him to ask questions or to get their book signed. Ngan Nguyen, sophomore, greets Diaz while he signs her copy of his book.

“A first common theme throughout ESL students’ writing was that they felt that they should be proud that they speak two languages and embrace two cultures, that it is okay to live the hyphen, so to speak,” Sun said.

During the event, Diaz got the chance to speak to the students about writing not only in one language but in two languages, about his radio show “Nuestra Palabra” (Our Word), and the importance of ethnic literature. He also discussed how he became who he is today.

“Talking to him made me feel better because I wasn’t the only who was going through that. He is incredibly amazing, and someone great to talk to,” Briceño said.

The students received the opportunity to read parts of his book along with him. The book combines a mixture of styles and languages as well as humor, politics, and street knowledge. While breaking race stereotypes Diaz won the Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction in 1998.

“I learned I can be a professional in this country. We are not the only people that have had this life and experienced the struggle,” Nelson Portillo, junior, said.