Monday, September 27, 2010
My head is awash with the last several hours. I went to my first English 1 class held at the IRC out in Decatur. Gosh. It was incredible. The “students” are all refugees, from places like Burma and Colombia and Eritrea and Nepal; beautiful places that we don’t ever see tourism commercials for. These people all have tragic stories behind them, but stories that are riddled with hope. The fact that they’re sitting in the class room is evidence that they have overcome a world of adversity and persecution, to get to the United States where their refuge waits. But, I’m learning, once they’re here, another very real struggle begins. Most of them don’t speak English when they get here. Many have spent most of their lives in refugee or displacement camps, fleeing all types of persecution. So, many of them don’t have marketable skills, or enough understanding of English to function within their skill set and find work. It’s tragic; the government lets them in, gives them a phone number and a case worker and wishes them luck. They don’t know the culture, the language, the way things operate here. But, here they are. And there they were, sitting in a classroom, 30 or 40 strong. It was beautiful. I sat with Mesias, Adalgisa, and Ronald, all from Colombia. They were dark-skinned and smiling and had no English to help them through this class that was taught in English. Beautiful people with beautiful dispositions, and I got to walk them through a vocabulary list of household items. Geez. It was wonderful. I’m learning a lot about how this whole English teaching thing works. It’s difficult, seeing as how some of these people don’t understand the western alphabet, let alone a single word of English. The IRC is in a fight to make it all work for the influx of refugees. It’s an uphill battle to cater to the different needs and levels of these beautiful people, and I think we’re going to see it happen. I’m so excited to be taking part in this, and can’t wait until i get to go back. Anyway, I’ll keep updating about all of these things. I love it here, life is happening in a big way. And off to it.