SALT “It has opened my eyes”

The following was written by one of our volunteers, Polly, who helps Somali refugees in our Somali Adult Literacy Training class.

ESL Details 006The timing was perfect for me. With my youngest son going away to college, and my time as a PTSA volunteer ending, I was seeking out a volunteer or paid position to fill my days.

Many opportunities quickly became available but most of them didn’t “feel” right, though I wasn’t sure what right was.

In the past, I always volunteered for positions that didn’t involve participation with people. I worked in the background and was very happy there, but then I heard about SALT, and I thought I would check it out.

20100930-IMG_8967My first SALT meeting was at their beginning of the season banquet, and it was overwhelming to me to listen to all the volunteer positions available within SALT. I thought, “No way, this is too much for me. I don’t want to commit all my days to serving these people. I know nothing about the Somali people and their country or how to teach. This is not going to work out.” So I left the meeting thinking I was going to decline another volunteer opportunity.

I went home and prayed, “God, this is so out of my comfort zone! Are you sure this is what you want me to do?”  But I felt drawn to this. I put it on my calendar and showed up to my first Tuesday class.

At first, both students and volunteers were shy and unsure what to say or how to act, but after a few short weeks, we now smile and say hello with ease. The ladies that I work with try so hard to learn to read and write and I find myself willing them to learn. There is so much more to teach them; how to make a call to the school or to DSHS, or to understand that the same job can have many different names, or what S,M,L means. It’s not just about reading and writing but teaching them everyday things that I take for granted. It has opened my eyes. I never would have believed that teaching could be so much fun and so rewarding.

There are now more than 25,000 Somalis living in the metro Seattle area.  In addition, there are tens of thousands of people from other countries now living in Seattle who are also Muslim.  In order to begin building cross religious and cultural relationships that are mutually transformative, we must first learn about our new neighbors.  If, like Polly, you are interested in volunteering with Somali refugees or simply wish to know more about who they are and how to connect with them, we are offering a 2-Part training this month.

Monday January 19th from 6pm-9pm Somali culture
Monday January 26th from 6pm-9pm Islam within the Somali setting.
Where: They are being held at: First Evangelical Presbyterian church
Address: 19800 108th Ave SE  Kent WA 98031.
RSVP: Please sign up before January the 14th with Oetje at

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