Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From All Walks of Life

I have started helping with an adult ESL class. The professor is wonderfully generous and enthusiastic, but completely overwhelmed with long days and classes that each have students with all ability levels. So I am going to assist the three lowest-level students in her Monday night class. They are just beginning to learn English, and she has asked that we work on phonics. These students are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, and a Turk who's from Russia. Their English is definitely remedial, but they are eager to learn and very friendly.

After class, the professor told me that the man from Chechnya saw his family murdered in the ongoing violence and political struggle there. He was able to escape to a nearby country, then another, and finally made it to America, where he has both asylum and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I wish this were an isolated event, but I realize his story exists in every ESL class across our great country. I suppose what makes it worth mentioning is not that he’s experienced such pain and violence, but that he’s made it out and to this country, that he wants to learn, and that we are going to enable him.


David said...

Did I ever tell you about the student I tutored at HCC who had been a child soldier in Sierra Leone?

Michelle Panik said...

Howard Comunity College?

Maryland had such a wonderful melange of people.

At UMD's Writing Center, I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't listening to story hour, but was in fact expected to help these students with term papers.