The Future is Bright for Amal
When Amal arrived in Chicago a year ago with her husband and two young children, she knew that she’d have to adapt to the ways of a new country. New arrivals to Chicago must learn to navigate the CTA, shop for sometimes-unfamiliar groceries, and communicate in a different language. Before the conflict that raged across Sudan drove Amal from her home, she had studied written English. But having the knowledge to read and write in a new language is not the same as having the confidence to speak it. Even when she could follow conversations in English, Amal sometimes felt too shy to speak.
But Amal is a fast learner and has support from many sides: from her teachers and fellow students at RefugeeOne's English and Women's Empowerment sewing classes; from her volunteer mentor, who practiced conversation with her; and, of course, from her family. As the months passed, Amal's hard work began to pay off. She spoke more often and more confidently, impressing her teachers and, more importantly, herself. "When I got here, I thought I couldn't learn to speak English," she says. "But I came to class and I did!"
As her confidence and knowledge of English grow, Amal is looking ahead to new challenges. Those who have finished the classes offered by RefugeeOne can move on to more advanced courses at Truman College, so she plans to study there in pursuit of a GED. And in the future? "I want to be a clothes designer. I've already made a purse at sewing class," she says. "And I've made friends there, too."
Dennis Gaynor: Retired, Not Resigned
Good volunteers come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common: they have aligned their service with their passions. Dennis Gaynor, who helps with individual instruction in beginning English classes, is a retired teacher who found that despite his best efforts, he couldn't stop teaching. "Even if you've been teaching the same thing for many years, it's different with every new student because every person learns a little bit differently," he says. "It's never boring."
Dennis found out about RefugeeOne from an article in the Chicago Tribune on November 25, 2012. Since then, he's been coming to RefugeeOne twice a week to tutor students, many of whom have no experience with written language. This may seem challenging, but the challenge is what draws him in. "I find it fascinating to find out what it takes to help someone make progress in a language," he says. "What does it take for someone who has no background in reading to grasp how letters represent sounds and words? It's a complex process. And that's why I like teaching." Thank you, Dennis, for devoting your time and talent to helping dozens of refugees learn to communicate!
Backpack and School Supply Drive
The first day of school is right around the corner and our backpack drive is underway!
Having the right school supplies is the first step in doing well in school. Help us ensure that the refugee youth (ages 4-18) in our programs are equipped to do well in their studies this academic year.
Donate new book bags or school supplies, or make a $25 donation to sponsor a backpack filled with supplies.
Donations of school supplies can be dropped of at:
4753 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60653
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday