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This 40 minute movie explores the dreams, challenges, realities and successes of immigrants to the US who enter community college through the door of ESL. The movie opens with immigrants' stories of their journey to this country and what they hope will happen when they arrive. In "The American Reality"--the next section of the movie--we see that immigrant hopes are often undercut by daily challenges. This leads many immigrants to turn to community college as a solution and conduit for change. The movie uncovers just how central ESL programs are to immigrants, and how many ESL teachers are on the front lines of dealing with and supporting immigrants. ESL students share how the tone and structure of a typical ESL class helps support them. The movie then turns its focus to the challenges that ESL programs face, and how "acceleration" can work as a viable and creative response.

Surfacing with a Dream features interviews with ESL students and teachers from several different California Community Colleges. The movie was directed by Karina Contreras, who was a Chabot College student while she made the film. (She is now at UC Berkeley, woohoo!)

The movie was produced by Acceleration in Context (AIC), a grant-funded initiative. To learn more about AIC please visit:

Surfacing with a Dream uncovers the reality of ESL students' lives, and it reveals just how crucial a robust and institutionally supported ESL program is to the futures of our newest citizens and neighbors.

The movie's sections:
The Journey
The American Reality
The Goals of ESL Students
Rising to the Surface
The ESL classroom
Accelerating the Dream
Epilogue: "What They Can Do Now'

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