One of the highlights of my week is when I get a chance to leave the office and meet our refugee families in their homes to assess them for a tutor. At the beginning of November, I had the privilege of meeting these sweet sisters, Jane and Christine. They are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and were resettled with their family in Columbia in 2016.
Because of COVID, the sisters had lost their tutor and their English lessons ceased abruptly. In November of this year, their nephew reached out to me to request another tutor.
I scheduled a meeting with Jane and Christine through their nephew and arranged a time to meet with the three of them.
Their nephew met me in the parking lot of their building so that he could guide me to the correct apartment. Their nephew is quite the advocate for his family and his community. He is outgoing, friendly and endearing; about once a week I get a text from him requesting the status of a tutor for his aunties. I have to admit that he melted my heart when he gave me the honorary title of “mom” and started calling me “the angel from City of Refuge”!
I was invited into their apartment as an honored guest and was introduced to the ladies by their nephew. In chatting with the family, I noticed that Christine had saved the tablet of lesson notes left by the previous tutor so that she could practice on her own. I was told that one of her dearest wishes is to take the Citizenship test to become a US citizen, but her English skills are not advanced enough to undertake that endeavor.
I am thrilled that I now have a tutor willing to meet with Jane and Christine. However, the need is great and my list is long. There are many more refugees, at all skill levels, who are in need of English tutoring or study help for the citizenship test. Others have repeatedly requested help studying for the written portion of the driving test because they would love the independence of driving on their own. I am grateful to our many volunteer tutors who are willing to make a difference in the lives of our refugee neighbors. On behalf of Jane, Christine, and many others, thank you for your support and time!
Stefanie Nichols Community Engagement and Financial Literacy & Employment Education VISTA