For more than ten years, I have been teaching English classes and Citizenship Test prep classes to adult immigrants. It's hard to think of anything more timely and worthwhile than this, given the political divisions in our nation. Those that we serve are desperate to become full participants in American life and American democracy, and they are dedicated and appreciative students. Their "thank yous" after class are not just sincere, they are humbling.
I found WTS 4 years ago. The volunteers are very helpful and supportive. I became friend with people from all over the world. We all have the same goal - to improve speaking and writing in English language. The executive director is a fantastic young lider with excellent ideas how to make the organization even more successful.
I've been volunteering as an English teacher with this organization for 8 months now, and never have I met a group of students more eager to learn or volunteers more dedicated to helping them. This group fills a unique need in our area by offering English, citizenship, and computer classes at no cost to students. Most importantly, perhaps, it fosters a sense of community among both the students and volunteers. Immigrants find a strong support system in addition to learning English skills, and volunteers benefit from the friendships with our students and with each other.
For the past 5 years, I've chosen to give (time, money, and effort) to Welcoming the Stranger, an educational nonprofit that offers free English, computer, and citizenship prep classes to immigrants and refugees. I've worked in both paid and volunteer capacities to fulfill this mission because the students and volunteers of this group have become a global family, and they have ceased to be "strangers" but have become welcomed members of our community who help one another.
When one of our students was in danger of homelessness, her classmates and volunteers came together to help her and offer support. She's safe and sustaining an apartment now.
When a student's car was stolen, and he was without transportation, others in the class offered rides, for months, until he had access to transportation again.
When a young single mother had to start a new life in a country with next to nothing, the students and teachers in her class helped her learn English, get her GED, find a job, apply for pre-K for her daughter, helped her find community resources, and taught her English language games that she could practice with her daughter. She's come so far in the past few months, and has gained a large "family" and support system.
The giving spirit of Welcoming the Stranger permeates everybody involved. Teachers and volunteers exude enthusiasm; students overcome whatever obstacles meet them at the end of a long work day so they can attend class; once there, they help each other and work together regardless of nationality, race, creed, or any other 'label' or division you can think of. After awhile, there are no 'strangers' but everyone feels welcome. Cultural differences are accepted and respected. The students don't just learn English, but they learn about how things work in America, and in turn the teachers and volunteers learn about the student's cultures.
I feel grateful to be a part of this wonderful organization!
Review from #MyGivingStory
I have been teaching citizenship classes for almost 17 years with welcoming the stranger.
The organization Has helped individuals from 99 different countries to better acclimate themselves with the society of the United States. It is a pleasure to meet so many great people from different countries. I have learned much about life and customs of other countries .
I have enjoyed working with students to help them learn English. We have served students from over 100 countries and I am very proud of that. I have seen how our students grow and learn English and eventually become American citizens.
I have enjoyed interning for WTS. I have seen the great dedication staff have for this program and their students. Through the students I have met I know we have helped them not only learn English but become fully integrated into their communities.
As a teacher with Welcoming the Stranger, I have met students from all over the world and learned about dozens of different cultures. I have had the honor of helping students in the program meet goals such as finding jobs, earning their driver's license, and getting accepted to college. I have watched students forge friendships that cross racial and cultural barriers as they connect over the common bond of learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. Welcoming the Stranger has made a huge difference in the lives of everyone involved, teacher and student alike. My class has become a family that helps one another, teaches one another, and deeply cares for one another both academically and personally.
Review from Guidestar