Students Celebrate Success at Center for New Americans: Part 1

October 8, 2019

It was a joyous day for many students at the Center for New Americans as they celebrated their achievements at the end of the quarter.

Over a three month period, 70 students graduated out of at least one level of English.  Students and teachers celebrated with an award ceremony, food, music, and speeches.

AM speaker

During one impassioned speech, a student answered the question, why are students so dedicated to learning English?  She shared a moving story of her first flight to the United States and how embarrassing it was to not understand anything around her at the airport.  However, she says:

And here I’m after a year and 7 months and studying English.  I don’t speak it correctly.  I don’t write it correctly, but I feel safer to go to the clinic or the store and the airport and ask for what I need.  I will continue studying English until I finish all levels and speak it correctly.  I have two reasons for this…

The first because I would like to be a good example for my daughters, that they see that although I struggle to learn, I try hard and I commit myself to continue studying, so they will do the same with their studies.  I believe that my example is very important even though they are adults.

The second reason why I have as a goal to speak English correctly is because I would like to work or volunteer to be a nurse’s assistant in a hospital.  I have hope in my heart.  I have a lot of faith that I will achieve.  I believe I can learn English.

Students and teachers sing a special South Dakota version of the John Denver song “Country Roads”

The Day was fun, inspiring, and we look forward to many more successes.  Make sure to catch us again soon when we share more inspiring speeches and photos from the student celebration.


Some of the Morning Graduating Students Pose With Their Certificates


Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2018

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Center for New Americans. We recently had an end of the year party with our students.  Please enjoy!

group song great pic

A Festive Rendition of This Land is Your Land sang by teachers and students.


Nepalese Students Share their cultural dance



Our Ukrainian and Nepalese students dance together



great pic of celina and dhaanto dancers

Students and Staff learn Dhaanto dance

Congolese student leads everyone in impromptu song.


Peace on Earth


Good Will to All!




World Refugee Day: A place to call home

June 28, 2013
On June 17th, about 40 people listened to a panel discussion featuring volunteers and refugees.

On June 17th, about 40 people listened to a panel discussion featuring volunteers and refugees.

On Monday, June 17th, about 40 people gathered at the Main Library in celebration of World Refugee Day. After watching two mini-documentaries, the group heard from some of those featured in the films: mentors Becky Sather Durr, Maria Guarraci, and Sarah Zoutendam and refugee mentee Khagendra Chhetri.

In the films and the panel, the audience learned about the joys and challenges of refugee mentor relationships.

The panelists—both volunteers and refugees—began by sharing their stories of uprooting and beginning again, finding themselves in Sioux Falls after living in Nebraska or Jordan or Bhutan.

“A place to call home is important to so many people,” said Sarah Zoutendam. Sarah was born in Jordan to American parents and has traveled to and worked in many countries since. “I’ve lived in enough different places that I don’t take home for granted anymore.”

Becky and Maria, who worked with Khagendra Chhetri and his family, described some of their mentorship activities that made everyone feel more at home: canoeing, sharing meals, and, of course, shopping.

In addition to discussing the importance of home, the mentors also stressed the importance of mutuality in mentor relationships—instead of “helping” refugees, the best mentor relationships are ones where all parties are givers and receivers. It can’t be a one-way street; it must be a two-way highway.

“It sounds bad, but I think you can volunteer for selfish reasons, because you want to learn about another culture,” Maria Guarraci said. “And the Chhetris have taught me so much.”

Khagendra Chhetri agreed. His family became friends with Maria, Becky, and their book club when they arrived to Sioux Falls from a refugee camp in Nepal last summer. He felt similarly about the giving and receiving that transform mentors into family members.

“They [mentors] teach me about American culture and I share my culture with them through food, festivals, music, and drumming,” Khagendra said. “I am very happy with my American family.”

World Refugee Day (June 20th) is an international day to honor the courage and contribution of refugees worldwide. If you would like to celebrate this day by beginning a refugee mentor relationship of your own, please contact our office at (605) 731-2000.

To contribute to the work of welcoming the stranger, make a financial gift to LSS today.

[Post by Amy S.Z.]

You’re invited: World Refugee Day celebration!

May 30, 2013

Adhikaris Tej pray

“We have to focus on humanity—not religion, not color, not caste. If we start to focus on the humanity, then it will leave our life very happy.” –Tej Adhikari

Come and celebrate WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2013 with us this year!  

In honor of World Refugee Day, Lutheran Social Services Refugee and Immigration Center invites you to view mini-documentaries sharing the stories of refugees and volunteers in Sioux Falls. We’ll also hear from the people featured in the mini-documentaries with a panel discussion.


Monday, June 17, 2013

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Main Library, 200 N. Dakota Ave, Sioux Falls

The event is FREE, but please RSVP to reserve your seat:

Call (605) 731-2000 and ask for Amy S.Z.

More details to come, but please save the date and call to reserve your seat.

See you soon!

[Post by Amy S.Z.]

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