Two years ago, the International Institute received state and federal grants to provide these services throughout Hudson County, but there were some municipalities that did not have sufficient space in order to instruct the needy.
But the township of North Bergen did, offering the use of the Free Public Library in order to offer the courses to North Bergen residents.
"The North Bergen Library is one of our more central locations," said Marilyn Rymniak, the Director of Adult Education in English Literacy and Civics Education for the Institute. "The North Bergen Library's director, Sai Rao, was kind enough to offer their facilities to help us, and we were happy about that."
Rao said that she was happy to be able to provide the Institute with the necessary space to conduct the classes.
"We always tried to have our own ESL and Citizenship classes," Rao said. "Now, we were able to do so with the help of the Institute. We were able to do so without having to find volunteers to teach the patrons."
The International Institute began teaching a six-level ESL program to students in the North Bergen Free Public Library, getting full use out of the library's expansive computer lab as well, having classes Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We were able to accommodate them," Rao said. "Space is always an issue at the library, but we were able to find the time and space to accommodate them."
"We built up a nice little following in North Bergen," Rymniak said. "We have about 50 or 60 people who attend the classes in North Bergen regularly, and that number should grow. It's pretty exciting that our people up there have come out to either get help in furthering their education or getting out into the work force. We're just so appreciative of what they've done for us."
Last week, the International Institute of New Jersey showed its appreciation for the use of the library by presenting Mayor Nicholas Sacco with an award. The plaque read that the award was for the generosity that the township showed in welcoming the Institute to the library.
"It's a nice gesture, but this award belongs in the hands of a larger group, not just me," Sacco said. "I just received it as the mayor. But ever since Sai Rao became director, the Library changed its focus and became more of a resource to the community. This is just another example of that. We're helping people who want to help themselves, and making them more marketable in the work place."
"It worked out wonderfully," Rao said. "They actually helped me out as well."
Rymniak just adores the North Bergen library.
"It really is a very special place," Rymniak said. "Rarely do you see all the different kinds of activities that go on there. The library is a great tribute to the town of North Bergen."