I had somewhat of a bumpy ride finding a family to be paired with for the extent of our class.. I joined the class late and went through a couple partners before Kelly helped me pair up with a family. During my first visit we made our way to the apartment building and the family was not home at the time. Kelly’s family lived in the same building so we thought it would be a good idea to stop by so Kelly could introduce me and we could spend a little time with them. Honestly, I was very nervous as the door opened to reveal a well organized apartment. The family was overwhelmingly nice and welcomed me into their home with open arms. They served me food and orange juice.. I had picked up some fruit at the grocery store to give my family as a present, but since they were not home I gave the fruit to Kelly’s family. When I gave it to the woman she had the biggest smile on her face!
While we were at the home, one of the young boys brought out a little video camera that he had purchased in Nepal and showed me videos of the refugee camp they lived in before coming to the United States. The videos were really interesting..
At one point while I was at the home I stood up from sitting on the couch because I wanted to stretch and they kept telling me something in their language and Kelly finally told me “they want you to sit down!” I was kind of surprised and quickly sat down.. We all smiled and laughed.. : )
During the visit the woman went into the back room and brought out an English workbook and handed one to Kelly & one to myself. I have never really had the chance to teach anyone English before and with a little instruction from Kelly I got the hang of it.. I was amazed at how eager the adults were to learn the language.
Although I have moved on to visiting my family, I am hoping I have a chance to stop by the family Kelly is working with and say hello. I truly enjoyed meeting them and spending time with them!
So our family seems to have a great support system here, which is awesome, but it leaves my group feeling like we can’t help them with much. I mean we help them with homework each week and answer the few questions they have… but that’s about it. Oh we also help with English as well… which the girls don’t need that much help with.
One thing that I’ve come to realize while working on homework with the girls is how much our School Supply Drive is needed! They have some of the basics, like backpacks and folders and some pencils… but they’re running out of erasers and they need a ruler and a calculator. So my partners and I are working on getting those things for them. I can only imagine what the other families need! These are basic things that kids need to succeed in school. Educating the children is the best way for these families to become self-sufficient, and if they lack these supplies it will be difficult for them to succeed.
I’m so grateful that I am on the School Supply Drive committee and we’re working really hard to collect supplies and donations. So if anyone reading this would like to donate supplies or make a monetary donation, please visit our Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=145426035523155
You can also donate through this fund-raising link: http://schoolsupplydriveloyola.chipin.com/school-supply-drive-for-loyola-refugee-outreach
We began our visit like all the rest by completing all of the homework for that night and checking binders for due dates later in the week. Macrina and I always try to remember to get some of their other homework out of the way for the week because we know that there is a good change it won’t get done at all. This week, I worked with the older boy on a simple math assignment while Macrina worked with the younger boy on spelling words and math boxes. Once again, we were stumped with the difficulties of fourth grade math. While the older boy and I waited for the other two to finish their homework, he showed me some of the drawings he made in his notebook. Pages upon pages were filled with these intricately detailed pictures of super hero’s that he has drawn from magazines or books. I am absolutely astounded at how excellent of an artist he is, especially for only being in fifth grade! He laughed when I told him that I couldn’t draw and he seemed to not believe me in the slightest.
We played a quick game of bankopoly before the mother came home from work. Per usual, I was the poor banker, the boys were filthy rich and owned all the most extravagant pieces of land, and Macrina was paying off debts and avoiding be sent to jail. When the mother came home she served us a nut dish, with onions, tomatoes and lettuce mixed in. Although I don’t mind eating it, I am still trying to wrap my taste buds around the flavor combination; it is so unique. She also served us one of our favorite dishes, noodles in broth. It tastes identical to ramen noodles. While we finished our game and ate our food, the mother pulled out the recently received report cards for the boys. She said that she didn’t understand what they meant and that they teachers requested to get in contact with us so we could be of further help. Although the report cards were not excellent, they were passing all of their classes and that is the most important. I have been playing phone tag with the younger boy’s teacher this past week and I am hoping to help get him involved in an after school tutoring program that will allow someone to help him with his work each day. I think the hardest problem is that the parents may not know how to help them and so they do not sit down each night to read with them or go over the spelling words.
I can’t wait for our next visit. My cousin has recently expressed a lot of interest in learning more about refugees and wants to become more involved with them in the community. I am going to bring her to meet our family and give her a taste of the fun we have with them.
Last Saturday, Katie and I went to Grandma and Grandma’s house, because J was at the hospital, for recurring abdominal pain. She and N eventually returned home, with medicines from the doctor. Due to all of her medical issues at the moment, J has decided to delay her job search for awhile. (Which is understandable, but a little worrisome, both from the medical aspect, and given how long finding a job may take.)
While we there, the family had two visitors—a medical student and his friend—who have known the family for a year. They had originally met by playing soccer in the neighborhood, and have kept in touch ever since, despite living near O’Hare. It was great to see people who make the effort to reach out—and maintain ties—without the motivation of class credit. They were really role models for how to do more than “befriend” refugees, but to also “be friends” with refugees.
After a nice conversation with this pair, we went to the beach and park with all of the kids, where we played tag in the sand, slid down the slides, and swung on the swings. At the park, grandmothers spoke to the their grandchildren in Polish, fathers to their daughters in Spanish, and our group in Nepali and English. It was a regular Saturday afternoon, and language was—for a bit, at least—not a barrier. Back at home, Grandma cooked for us, and told us to call her “Aama”—mother—a simple gesture, but unbelievably kind.
So we had to make an “emergency” visit recently to sort out some trouble with the SNNs. They received a call from RCN saying that the dad’s SNN wasn’t coming up. He called me and I was on the phone for hours trying to get connected to the right people and finally get this thing sorted out. They needed to fax some paper work and whatnot so we helped them do that. And finally they had an appointment scheduled for internet to be installed.
But then when the installer guy arrived he was very obnoxious so I received a call from the family explaining this to me. I talked this guy and explained to him that he is address all issues to me. Eventually everything worked out, but as usual not without a bunch of unforeseen setbacks.