Closer Connections Conference to be held in Sioux Falls November 8 & 9

October 18, 2017

PATHS jpg

This coming month Lutheran Services of South Dakota and Dakota TESL will be hosting the 2017 Closer Connections Conference, Pioneering New PATHS:  Promoting Acquisition to Heighten Success.

The Closer Connections Conference includes:

  • Best practices for teaching English Language Learners at all ages and levels of proficiency
  • Cultural panels
  • Breakout sessions on refugee resettlement and immigration
  • Networking opportunities

I was able to talk to Dakota TESL President-elect, Diana Streleck, who said, “The Closer Connection Conference provides teachers and community members a venue in which to discuss and learn about the educational needs and cultural backgrounds of the English Language Learner in our communities.”

Thanks in part to the South Dakota Humanities Council, the one of the keynote speakers of the conference will be, Dr. Amer Ahmed, a prominent national speaker and intercultural diversity consultant, who will deliver a keynote address and discussion session, “Addressing Islamophobia: Dispelling Myths to Break Down Barriers.”

Ahmed

Amer F. Ahmed, Ed. D., is an individual with an eclectic personal and professional background. As an intercultural diversity consultant, college administrator, facilitator, poet and Hip Hop activist, he channels his diverse experiences towards effectively changing how we interact with the world around us.  Born in Springfield, Ohio, to Indian Muslim immigrants, Amer has dedicated his life to engaging and facilitating diversity across human difference. Powerful study abroad experiences in South Africa and Nepal have been enhanced by his deep interest in anthropology and Black Studies. His Indian-Muslim-American upbringing, together with his education and international experiences form the basis of his message to his audiences—respect and dignity for all people.

The second keynote speaker will be, Dr. John Schmidt, an educator, trainer, program developer and administrator with extensive international experience will present a keynote address and break-out session reflecting on “At Home in the World: Building Language Skills to House ESL Acquisition.”

john_schmidt

The great-grandson of Norwegian immigrants to Wisconsin, John was raised in the Upper Midwest. In sixth grade he was introduced to a second language, Spanish, by his teacher from Cuba. This encounter was the beginning of his world travels which led him to studying and working in Spain as well as training teachers and developing programs for a variety of educational entities on all five continents.  He currently teaches ESL for the Texas Intensive English Program (TIEP) in Austin, Texas. In addition, he has volunteered his time and expertise in various capacities with TESOL International and Toastmasters International. He has co-authored several ESL textbooks addressing teaching, grammar and English for Specific Purposes.

The Closer Connections Conference gives the local community the opportunity to learn about refugees and immigrants from different countries, listen to international speakers, and engage in interactive sessions to understand diversity in our community.

If you would like to register for the conference, please visit the Dakota TESL website:  http://dakotatesl.com/ for more information.

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor and Dakota TESL Secretary

 


Why Not You?

October 16, 2017

Are you interested in adoption or foster care? November is recognized as National Adoption Month, and local agencies are sponsoring an Adoption and Foster Care Awareness event on November 2, 2017, at the Rapid City Dahl Arts Center, located at 713 7th Street, Rapid City, South Dakota. Read the rest of this entry »


Human Trafficking Presentation

October 9, 2017

South Dakota ranks 6th in the country for the number of victims of human trafficking. According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is: modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States.

Victims are most often young adults who are looking for a new start or a way out of their current situation. Those looking for victims make promises that fulfill these wishes, and before they know it, they are being moved away from home and into a cycle that is hard to break. The best way we can prevent trafficking is by educating ourselves. Mentors should be aware at the very least and in some cases, ready to discuss trafficking with your student who may be at risk of being a victim.

Anyone who is interested in the prevention of human trafficking is invited to attend our October support training. We will be joined by The New Colossus, a local nonprofit dedicated to prevention efforts. Please join us from 12-1 PM on October 24 at LSS, 705 E 41st Street. Parking and the entrance is in the rear of the building. Please go past the stairs and into the Center for Financial Resource and Counseling Services area to get to the conference room. RSVP by calling 221-2403 or emailing Mentoring@LssSD.org.


Meet Bob and Daniel

October 4, 2017

As the 2017-18 school year starts, it may be a great time to talk about mentoring at your office! Bob Wendland, who mentors at Eugene Field, found out about the program just that way. “Mentoring is a perfect break in my day,” said Bob. “It’s nice to get out the office and de-stress.”

Bob is matched with Daniel, who is now a 3rd grader. At the end of last year, they were looking forward to reconnecting and starting their third year together this fall. “He makes me feel happy,” said Daniel. “He is fun, funny and nice.”

Daniel enjoys playing games with Bob and remembers their first meeting as the time when they “played Go Fish and Bob asked me a lot of questions.” The biggest attribute Bob has seen in Daniel is his kindness. “I look forward to seeing where his genuine kindness takes him in life,” said Bob.

Bob definitely sees the need for more mentors. He grew up in a small South Dakota town where everyone knew everyone. He knows that is not the case in Sioux Falls, which makes mentoring a valuable investment of your time.

If you would like to talk about mentoring at your workplace, let us know! We would be happy to send you applications or brochures to help get people interested. As we are going into the 2017-18 school year, there are approximately 200 students like Daniel who need someone “fun, funny and nice” in their life.


Thank you, thank you, thank you!

September 29, 2017

Mentors can teach many skills to the students they work with. One important one is the ability to say THANK YOU. With the help of community groups, kids will be able to say thank you to their mentors a little more easily this year.

The program has received donations of scrapbook supplies and volunteer groups have been busy creating cards that will be given to schools. Schools will then give the blank thank you cards to students to write a short note or draw a picture to give to their mentor.

We have been blessed with hundreds of cards this year, but are always in need of more. If you are a card maker and would like to lend your talents to a good cause or if you have supplies that are filling up your closet, we can take those as well! In addition to thank you cards, we are in need of 40-50 birthday cards that will be sent to older adults in the Better Together program. Please drop any donation off at LSS, 705 E 41st Street, Suite 220.


I believe…

September 20, 2017

northshore

I believe that LSS Center for New Americans is an integral part of the Sioux Falls community, strengthening families, providing much needed services, reaching above and beyond to help people. I believe hard work and determination goes a long way in changing lives, the community, and the world. I believe LSS gives people a chance when they had none. There is a certain satisfaction knowing that you have helped make your community a better place to be, have helped people live and thrive when they didn’t have that chance before.
I believe that people come here to be free, to live and love, to build a new life, a better life, and LSS helps them assimilate, helps them overcome language and cultural barriers, prepares them to find gainful employment and housing. LSS helps reunite families and keep families together.
I believe that we are privileged to provide many people with the chance to learn new things. For example, on Monday nights, we offer a technology class at the Center for New Americans. It is so exciting to help students succeed when they have never used a computer before. It is also exhilarating to teach a student who cannot read and write their own language how to read and write in English. These are the precious, empowering moments for our students that help them succeed in our community.
Some time ago, I had a student that told me, “I was afraid when I came to America, but maybe American culture is not bad, it is just different.” This comment has impacted my own thoughts and beliefs. My students’ cultures are not bad. They are just different. There is beauty to be found in each and every one of them.
I believe LSS Center for New Americans changes lives. Not only the lives of the refugees and immigrants they help, but the lives of all the employees and volunteers that work for the changes. Working at the Center for New Americans is challenging work but very rewarding. I believe that the final goals are definitely worth the effort!

Written by Heather Glidewell, LSS ESL Instructor

 

 


September? A holiday month? Really?

September 14, 2017

globe and flags

How many holidays are there in September? Well, that’s pretty easy. One of course – Labor Day. And that’s correct, but it also doesn’t end there. Just about every month has one or two major holidays and then many less known celebratory days, often too numerous to mention. And September is no exception. Let’s take a look.

September is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, going from September 15 to October 15. Hispanic Heritage Month dates back to 1968 and highlights the independence of several Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile and Belize – as well as the contributions Spanish speaking individuals have made to the fabric of the United States.

Then there is Labor Day, also known as the unofficial end of summer. It became a federal holiday in 1984, honoring the American workers who – through strength, sweat and perseverance – have shaped this country into what it is today.

And then there is the plethora of other celebrations. A little something for everyone. The internet tells me that there are more than 650 holidays worldwide in September. Several religious holidays are spread throughout the month: the Muslim Eid-al-Adha, remembering that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmail to God, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a day of repentance. The government is also well represented, with Citizenship and Constitution Days, Goldstar Mother’s Day and the Air Force’s birthday.

Acorn squash, cheese lovers pizza, salami, TV dinners and Chocolate Milk Shakes are among the many foods highlighted during the month of September. All these meals require a National Clean Up Day. Don’t forget your pets, video games and clean beds.

My personal favorite is definitely National Coffee Day, observed on September 29. There might be some free cups of coffee to be found on that day. I will certainly give it a try.

National-Coffee-Day

Written by Silke Hansen, LSS English Instructor


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