An update on the refugees in my sphere….
A young woman from Iraq came here from Syracuse to be closer to family. She started class yesterday.
One of our Somali students who arrived late saw her sitting across the room and said, “NICE TO MEET YOU. WELCOME to AMERICA!” so clearly and warmly we applauded.
The Executive Order (travel ban) has been hard on those waiting for family members, but they are all pros at carrying on. They’ve had to learn to be. It’s only when our mental health person comes to speak about dealing with the stress of resettlement, and translators are present, that we catch a glimpse into some our students’ concerns and anxieties. I think they all feel safe in the class and free to speak their minds. I’m happy for that.
After that, we carry on with our English studies.
My mom both credited and faulted my tendency to find a bright side to everything. In that spirit, let me now say that ONE UPSIDE of the current situation is that because of the flow of refugees being cut off, current students are permitted to stay in class longer than the 5 months they generally get. Also, we picked up several new volunteers after the first executive order, people just wanting to do something to help. Between the extended learning time and the improved student:teacher ratio, language skills are growing in leaps and bounds! A few students who were at the very lowest level when they came in are comprehending and communicating well beyond our initial expectations. We are daily surprised.
Pressing on, gently.