Update on the Refugees in My Sphere


Students from Nepal, Congo and Somalia

An update on the refugees in my sphere….

The numbers in ESL class are way down. This time last year, we had upwards of 30 students. Now we are down to a steady 8-10. We rarely get a new student, unless it’s someone who was resettled in another city and, after a while, moved here.

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.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in compassion, Memorial Day, refugees. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Update on the Refugees in My Sphere

  1. Katie says:

    Blessings to you for this important work!
    Are any of your students in need of warm hats, scarves, gloves for winter?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diana Trautwein says:

    In the midst of way too much bad news, this is absolutely delightful to read! Thank you for posting it – and thank you for doing it.


  3. Juliana says:

    I am so very thankful and warmed (and saddened) by this update. So glad to hear how the refugees you are working with are doing – and glad to hear from you. And sad for them, and for us, as we wait for their families to join them here. Resilience is a powerful thing and they, and you, demonstrate it in spades


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