Written by Kevin Heffernan
Crafter Hours on October 25 will benefit all of Jericho Road’s Service Sectors. Let’s take a look at each:
Jericho Road’s Events and Marketing Coordinator Mary Schaefer has provided some additional information on the program. Whether you attend their Crafter Hours program, or make donations to Jericho Road in the future, here’s a program your money benefits:
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE INITIATIVE
Refugees often come to the US with limited or no English skills. Sometimes, refugees are illiterate in their own language, having never learned to read or write in their country of origin. Navigating life in the United States is extremely challenging without these skills and achieving citizenship is nearly impossible. Job opportunities for people who speak little English are slim and typically low-paying. Parents who can’t speak English have difficulty participating in their children’s education because they can’t communicate with teachers and administrators. Important medical information cannot be explained, navigating public transportation is a guessing game, and even buying groceries is a huge challenge. Public ESL classes are inaccessible for mothers of young children who are either single parents or the caregivers while their significant others work.
English as a Second Language classes are offered multiple times a week at Jericho Road’s Hope Refugee Drop-In Center on West Ferry and in student homes. Classes are taught by trained staff members and volunteers. The curriculum focuses on practical, conversational English instruction so that students gain skills that can be used and practiced in their day-to-day lives. Classes taught in student homes are targeted to refugee mothers who can bring their children to classes taught in their own neighborhoods. (This eliminates the challenge of needing child-care and transportation – most students can walk to the host home.) Upper level students continue conversation English instruction while also preparing for the U.S. citizenship interview.
In the last year, 37 ESL students have become citizens, including an 86-year old Bhutanese client who has been in the program for the past five years.
Last fiscal year numbers:
- 240 learners from 12 different language groups – Burmese, Karen, Chin, Karenni, Nepali, Arabic, Tigrinya, Chinese, Arakanese, Somali, Spanish and Swahili – have participated in Jericho Road’s ESL classes.
- Teachers (60 volunteers and a few staff members) have served in 28 homes and seven neighborhood locations, providing instruction in literacy, citizenship, and everyday conversational language skills. The majority of in-home students are mothers with young children unable to attend class elsewhere due to childcare responsibilities.