IT HAPPENS EVERY AUGUST, when the refugee mothers who no longer need child care in order to attend English class (because their youngest enters Pre-K) “graduate” to classes in the main building. There, classes are tailored to specific levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced – and their English will improve more quickly.
But it happens every August, that they are sad to leave us.
They know us.
They know the drill.
They’ve made friends.
For one or two of them, though, it’s about more than that. It’s about …… MEN. Being in class with men. Every year, there’s at least one for whom this is unthinkable.
“I can’t be in class with men,” Vina says.
I know what some of you are thinking. They are in the USA now. They need to adjust. Sure. But we are talking about a woman who, her whole life – 40 years – has not associated with men outside her family. How to best help her with that adjustment?
I suggest she sign up for a mentor to meet with her weekly, and to request a woman. No, no, she says, shaking her head. She’s sure her husband will not allow that. Next day, though, she waits until the end of class, after everyone’s left the room, to ask a question.
“Marilyn? Do you do that, come to house for English?”
“No, I don’t. I work here in the classroom 3 mornings a week.”
“Oh,” she says. “Because I feel good to talk with you.”
Ahhhhh. So an absolute ‘no’ has some wiggle room, after all.
Perhaps, if I give her another day or two, or a week maybe, she will find her way to the office of the person who arranges for mentors and dare to take a chance on another person, another friendship.
Perhaps even…….Would it be too much to hope for, that she finds her way to giving her new class a chance? And that it would be okay with her husband, too?
Maybe it is too much.
Then again, maybe not.
Her English is very good. I would hate to see it deteriorate due to lack of use.