I walked into English class one morning and was surprised to see Farzaneh leaning over a desk, explaining a worksheet to some of her classmates who had very little English skills.
Farzaneh had started working in a full-time job the week before. Usually when our clients find employment, they do not have time to continue coming to English class or they begin attending English class in the evening at a local community college.
“Farzaneh,” I asked her, “Why are you here? Has something happened with your job?”
Her job was going just fine. She was in class because not only does she want to keep studying English, she also enjoys the opportunity to learn about different cultures and languages and help more newly-arrived refugees to learn English.
When she first came to the United States in 2010, Farzaneh did not speak much English at all. While she rapidly improved her English by going to the library every day and reading children’s books, her first year in America was difficult. She hated living in America and usually stayed at home.
One day, she said that she asked herself, “What are you doing? Where are your dreams?” She realized that sitting at home was not going to help her in her new life in America. So she began to take steps to get out of the house, which included getting her driver’s license and learning about places in Kent. She said that, at home, “we never learn anything. [But] outside, we can learn at least one word per day.”
Today, she’s a mom, wife, and full-time employee. She’s learning English and navigating new systems. And, as if that weren’t enough, she makes time to come and help out more newly-arrived refugees who are learning English.
When asked about her participation in class, Farzaneh says about herself and her classmates, “We are learning together.”
One-on-one and small group assistance makes a world of difference for those learning a new language—click here to learn about how you can volunteer as an ESL tutor or class assistant.