Thirty Citizen Guards are attending English classes at the University of Cuenca for the purpose of improving communication with tourists and foreign residents. Two graduate students in the university’s English Literature program are the teachers.
The Citizen Guard, administered by the city of Cuenca, performs some law enforcement functions, such as enforcing the public drinking law, but is mostly involved in providing services in Cuenca’s historic district, much of it for tourists.
Guillermo Cobo, commander of the Citizen Guard said he wants to provide the language training to all 140 guards. “This will make us a much more effective service to the community,” Cobo said. “With the growth in tourism it is almost essential.”
Hugo Sibri, one the guards in the class, said understanding some English is important for offering advice and directions to foreigners. “English is so widely used, even in European countries that speak other languages, knowing it makes our jobs easier.”