From banana mania to Alaskan smoked salmon, Oksana Goldenstein served up crêpe after crêpe to more than 30 of her fellow classmates practicing their English as they ordered from her Wednesday.
The adult students from Ethiopia, Iraq and Vietnam packed into Goldenstein’s crêperie, Crêpes Up Delicious, in the downtown Minneapolis Canadian Pacific Building awaiting their chance to bite into a crêpe.
Goldenstein was a student in the Anoka-Hennepin Community Education program for English language learners before she opened her bustling crêpe shop.
“She is one of the many students who are successful,” said Polina Huffman, Goldenstein’s former Adult Basic Education teacher.
Wednesday was a day of firsts for some of the students: their first time venturing into downtown Minneapolis from the north metro suburbs and their first ride on a Metro Transit bus. Students from 59 countries attend the program in Blaine.
Arshed Thanon, who moved to Minnesota from Iraq with his wife and twins, rode to the city along with classmates from the Adult Basic Education program and learned how to board the Metro Transit 25 bus from Joanna Hubbard, a Metro Transit Customer Advocate.
“When I live in Coon Rapids, I don’t think to come here, but now it can be easy,” he said.
Hubbard instructed the students how to board the bus using their free ride coupons and how to properly insert the coupons to receive transfers.
Hubbard said Metro Transit often teaches English language learners how to ride the bus.
Seatmates from Ethiopia and China chatted on the bus in English as the windows fogged up and snow sprinkled outside. Commuters boarding the full bus also received a lesson from Hubbard on bus etiquette, including giving up seats for an elderly or disabled person.
Before the class trip to Minneapolis, Huffman informed her students how to decipher bus routes.
“They were kind of shocked that there were so many options and so many buses,” she said. “I hope they get something out of this for themselves.”
Once in the Minneapolis skyway, students snapped pictures of Goldenstein’s shop and lined up to order. Thanon and many of his classmates ordered Goldenstein’s chicken teriyaki crêpes, which sold out by the end of the lunch rush.
Kequin McDonald, from China, and her friend, Mannar Matruod, from Iraq, split one sweet and one savory crêpe on Wednesday. McDonald said the array of students in the class has introduced to her to many different cultures and foods.
Goldenstein, who is originally from Russia, moved to Minnesota from Texas, where she also sold crêpes. She now tries out her English skills on her customers at her skyway store. While she admits to having some difficulty, her daughter, Valentina, is there to step in and help out.
On Wednesday, Goldenstein began to tear up when thinking about the support she received from her former teacher, Huffman.
“Polina supported me,” she said. “She was the only one who knew about my business.”
Many of the students left the crêperie inspired to start their own businesses, Huffman said. She now wants to follow up with more of her former students to see what they have accomplished.