New Years Opportunities

January 29, 2020

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The first month of a historic new year is now winding down to an end.  In a few days we will be greeting February.  However, we cannot forget that January is the month of New Year’s Resolutions.

There are, of course, two types of resolutions: Those that are freshly made that we hope to accomplish, and those which were made a year ago and have changed our lives throughout the past year.

In speaking with my students, they listed many different goals for this year (or beyond) ranging from visiting family in another state or country, buying a house, buying a car, going to college, becoming a doctor, getting a GED, getting a better job, learning more English.

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Some of Last year’s New Year’s Resolutions were recently revisited by Teacher Mary in her advanced GED English class.  Here are a couple of their inspiring stories:

Last year one of my students made the resolution to stop smoking and drinking. After one year he is happy to report that he has been successful!  So this year his resolution is to read the Nepali Bible every day.   His success was so inspiring to his classmates that one has decided to make the same goal this year.

In speaking with another student, she said she made the resolution last year to save $50 a week.  Although she was mainly successful, she realized it was just too much, so this year she modified her goal to save $20 a week.  She puts the money immediately in the bank so she doesn’t spend it.

Many of our students like to travel, too, and often have to work through the steps to take time off of work, save money, and plan for traveling expenses.  This year I have one student planning a trip to Bangkok.

Of course all our students have the goal of “learning more English,” and as a school, we have been working with the students to identify the steps needed to grow and develop better English skills.  We have talked about the need to incorporate many skills into learning such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  We have also discussed the dedication and hard work the students put into learning a new language.  It is a motivating and inspiring thing to see their positive attitudes and their continued success.

Here’s to all of you that you may also be successful in this coming New Year!

 

 

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

 

 


New Years From Around the World

December 31, 2019

Here in the United States, we typically follow the Gregorian calendar.  December 31 marks the end of the old year, and January 1 is the beginning of the New Year.  We here in South Dakota are some of those people.  However, it seems that around the world, there are many different celebrations for New Year’s, sometimes on January 1 and sometimes not.

I explored some of the New Year’s customs around the world including Burma, Japan, Ukraine, Sudan, and Mexico.  Here are a few of the things that I found.

In Burma (Myanmar), people follow the Burmese calendar, a form of lunisolar calendar, and traditionally the New Year for Burma falls in April during the Thingyan Festival.  The festival lasts for 5 days and during the first 4 days, people try to douse each other in water.  This Buddhist festival corresponds with many New Year’s celebrations throughout Asia.

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Partaking of Water Dousing in Burma

 

According to Burmese belief, the water will cleanse the body, mind, and spirit from the previous year’s bad luck.  The people enjoy the refreshing water, too, as April is very hot in Burma.

 

In Japan, families end the year by eating toshikoshi (soba noodles).  The long buckwheat noodles are said to give longevity.  Noodles are served with fresh vegetables and tempura shrimp.  Just remember to finish all your noodles before midnight to avoid bad luck!

For those who are Buddhist in Japan, the Joya no Kane ritual is performed.  The Buddhist temples strike the temple bell 108 times on New Year’s Eve.  This symbolizes purification of the old year’s sins in preparation of the New Year.

In the morning, it is said to bring good luck if one watches the new rising sun and says a prayer.  Later that morning, toast with sake for good health, and then spend the day feasting, playing games, giving the children money, and having an overall great New Year!

 

 

In Ukraine, the Julian calendar was followed before the Gregorian calendar became popularized.  Because of this, many Ukrainians still follow the Julian calendar.  Jan 1 on the Julian calendar falls on January 14 in the Gregorian calendar.  Ukraine typically celebrates the New Year’s over a week’s period of time, January 7 to 14, with lots of music, festivals, plays, and outdoor activities in the snow including sleigh rides.

In Sudan where the Islamic religion is primary, the New Year’s is celebrated not in January but rather in August.  The actual date will vary each year according to the cycle of the moon, but the date ultimately corresponds to the prophet Mohammed fleeing from Mecca to Medina.  In 2020, New Year’s Day will be August 20.  Because New Year’s is linked to a religious event, it is considered a time to fast, pray, and be kind to each other by avoiding fights and other sins, and ultimately is a quiet time for reflection.

My Sudanese students have shared with me in the past that a typical meal for them on New Year’s was fresh ox with chili sauce.  Everyone from the village came together to slaughter the ox, eat, and celebrate the New Year together.

Interestingly, January 1 is an official holiday in Sudan as it is the Sudanese Independence Day; so many people will celebrate the day after all.

In Mexico, warm weather encourages people to celebrate New Year’s outdoor with barbeques and fireworks.  A typical traditional New Year’s meal starts around 8 p.m.  The family enjoys tamales and pozole (pork and bean stew) and drinks atole (a hot drink consisting of masa, cane sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes chocolate).  Afterwards, there are bonfires in the street and fireworks.

Some families like to hang a piñata, and the entire family from the youngest to the oldest try to break the piñata blindfolded until all the candy falls out.  Interestingly, the points on the piñata represent the 7 cardinal sins, and the candy represents the good that triumphs over evil.

So whatever you might plan on doing this year for New Year’s, consider adding in a new tradition…perhaps going outside in the freezing cold and throwing water at each other is not a good idea in South Dakota, but you surely you could ring a bell, eat tamales, and enjoy a good sleigh ride!

Happy New Year!  Here’s to 2020!

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

 


What we like about winter…

December 24, 2019

 

This past month we have been discussing seasons, especially winter as the snow has come to visit us in South Dakota.  Of course with this topic comes winter safety and winter driving and all the reasons we don’t like winter.  However, I asked my students to tell me three things they like about winter weather.  Here are a few of their answers:

 

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The Beautiful View of the Big Sioux River in December

  • I like winter because my children love to play in the snow. They make snowmen and throw snowballs. They build snow forts every winter.  Snow can be a lot of fun.
  • I like winter because snow falls down. All places are very white. Some people don’t like snow because snow is too cold, but small kids need snow because they like sledding.
  • I like the snow. It is white. I like the winter.  My kids like it a lot and play.  My kids make snowmen, snow forts, and they like sledding.  For this reason, I like winter because my kids get excited to play in the snow.
  • I like cold because it’s good for my health. I like to play with my nephews outside because it’s so fun. In the season of winter, we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s.
  • I like wintertime because I get my tax return. I need money for my family. In wintertime, there are many holidays.  I like to be off and stay at home and rest from work.
  • Staying at home is good because I take time to relax and drink hot chocolate and watch movies.

 

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  • In winter, I like reading a book in front of the window, watching the snow fall down. It feels good. I like to take pictures to remember that I was frozen and it was fun!  I like to spend time at home with my family.  It feels comfortable and warm.
  • It is fun to see the white stuff fall from the sky. The ice and snow beautify the city.
  • I like winter because I can eat a lot of food. I like to sleep at night, but it is freezing cold!
  • I like winter because it is Christmas time and I can have fun with my family.
  • I stay home all day most of the time talking together with family. We make tea, coffee, and see the outside view. I like a white Christmas.  I want Christmas time to have a lot of snow.

 

Here is wishing you have time to appreciate the beautiful snow, build snowmen, have snowball fights, stay warm, and drink lots of hot chocolate this winter!

 

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Have a wonderful Christmas

this week

from all of us

here at the

Center for New Americans! 

MERRY

CHRISTMAS!

 

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

 


Voices of Inspiration

December 17, 2019
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Academic Words that Students Have Worked with this Past Semester

In my class at the Center for New Americans we work on academic vocabulary.  Recently we came across the word, “inspire.”  As we discussed this word and came up with examples, one student said, “Teacher, you inspire us to learn more.”  I have to admit, I did feel all warm and fuzzy after she told me this.  However, I feel it is I that is inspired by the students.  Their dedication and tenacity continues to amaze me.

 

Of note, at our most recent graduation ceremony, one of the speakers, a student from Guatemala, said, “I started out in class 1.  Now I am in class 4.  I knew only 7 words of English when I came to the United States.”  This accomplishment has involved years and years of study!  So very amazing!

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Another student, a young man from Ethiopia, also addressed the students (as his adoring wife looked on and recorded his speech on her cell phone).  He was able to share, “I want to continue my education.  I want to be able to read and speak English well enough to continue onto college.  I want to help others.”  I wish him all the best in his endeavors!

 

Finally, a Bangladeshi woman also gave her fellow students advice, “If you don’t learn English, you are shut in at home.  One needs to learn English because it is important to get out of the house, important to get a job, important to communicate with schools about children, etc.  Learning English is a responsibility.”  Very well said and so very important to hear!

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It is truly inspiring and a privilege to be a teacher of these wonderful students.  I can only hope to aspire to be even half as inspiring as they are!

 

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


What’s in a Name?

December 10, 2019

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It is a unique world that I teach in. On a typical day I have students from Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Congo, Burundi, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Ukraine…and a handful of other countries. I find that even what appears to be the simplest name may actually be a tongue twister for my American English tongue.

 
And yet, I am told, and firmly believe, that names show respect to people and help to create community and camaraderie. More importantly, as a teacher, it shows that I care when I try to pronounce a name correctly, even if I fail miserably.

 
And just What’s In a Name?

 
My obsession with names began long ago. I would spend hours as a child going over my grandmother’s name book and carefully pick out the best names with the best meanings for my future children…or a character in my most recent attempt at novel writing.
When I became an English instructor at LSS, my obsession with names continued. I found it fascinating to hear all the different names and pronunciations. I also found it intriguing that all my Nepalese women seemed to have the same middle name…Maya…and my Nepali men a common middle name…Bahadur. In fact I was so intrigued that I finally asked why? After a lengthy explanation, my students told me that Maya means “love” and Bahadur means “bravery.” They also informed me that first names, too, had meanings, such as Santi means “peace,” Chhabi means “key,” and Phul means “flower.”

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Recently I was able to discuss names with some of my other students from around the globe. We discussed: Who chose their name? Does their name have a special meaning? What is common practice with naming children in their home countries? Students were more than eager to share with me (and often laugh with me as I tried very hard to get the names right).

 
One interesting thing I learned was that a student from Sudan was named according to the day of the week. If a child was born on a Tuesday, the girls were all one name and the boys another, and then of course the other days had their own corresponding names. He said though that things have changed over the years, and this is not necessarily followed any more.

 
Additionally, another Sudanese student shared that children receive their own name plus the name of their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Thus a child could be named Aziza Mohammed Ali Osman (child-father-grandfather-great-grandfather’s names respectively) and this goes for either a boy or a girl.

 
My own name was always kind of an embarrassment for me as a child, and even today I have students calling me “Hi There,” “He There,” and “Heater.” Coincidentally a gentleman from Ethiopia shared that he, too, was always embarrassed about his name as a child as it is not a common name. In fact it was at the suggestion of a family friend that he received his moniker. Then one day he heard his name (at the refugee camp no less) and there was another with his name. He said he was so relieved to meet someone else with his name.

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Finally, for today, a student from China explained that their name means “Red Sun.” For him, this was a good name, to be named for the beautiful red sun in the sky. Certainly this was a name that he was proud of, just as my other students are proud of their names and their heritage…just as I am proud of my name and my heritage, too.

 

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


When We Reach Our Dreams! New Citizens in South Dakota

November 12, 2019
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LSS Teachers pose with two new American citizens after the ceremony

September 6, 2019, was a magnificent day for many reasons.  For starters, it is was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, a reminder of our quickly ending summer.  Secondly, on that day 200 people from 37 different countries became United States citizens right here in Sioux Falls.

Just what does it mean to be a citizen of the United States?  It says on my passport that I am a citizen of the United States, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I know that my ancestors loved other countries: Germany, Norway, Prussia, and England.  However, although these places are intriguing for me, I have pride and love for only one country, the United States of America.

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Two New American Citizens pose with the American Flag

The same goes for our new citizens.  They have pride and love for this new country.  To come to this country, they left behind everything they knew and loved in hopes to start a new life, a better life, a safer life, and to be part of the American dream.  As the keynote speaker fittingly said, it is with utmost dedication and determination that people are willing to leave their homeland, their “most sacred,” to come to America.

So as I watched 200 new citizens swear the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, I found it very fitting that the opening speaker had mentioned the stamina and determination of their own ancestors and had admonished, “I really hope you never lose that internal resolve that brought you here to the United States.”

A New American citizen folds the flag to the National Anthem

 

Then later as the mayor spoke, I had to agree with him that our community is full of diversity and that our “new citizens have a voice and responsibility to participate,” and to be “a part of this city, this community,” through voting, mentoring, and volunteering.

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


Technology in the Classroom at the Center for New Americans

September 18, 2019

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It’s not just English anymore.  Refugees and immigrants that come to the United States are no longer just bombarded with a new language.  They also have to quickly and successfully learn to navigate technology.

For instance, each morning I come to work.  I log into a computer and sign in for the day.  I check my email for any new messages.  I upload documents to share with my students.  I search electronic files and print papers.  At home I pay my bills, shop online, and communicate with family and friends all over the United States and beyond.

So it goes without saying that to live in America people need to be very fluent in technology. Students look forward to learning technology in our classrooms.  They know that technology is necessary for navigating this new country they are now living in.

At the Center for New Americans we help students learn about technology in the classroom.  In addition to computer specific classes, the Center for New Americans offers monthly technology days in all English classes and often includes technology in daily lesson plans.

Many of our students are dedicated to learning English and mastering computer technology.  They faithfully come to combined English and technology classes.  When asked why they are so dedicated and why technology is so important to them, this is what they answered:

One student, a hardworking young man from Sudan, says he came to the United States “because  it is a free country.” English is important to him, because it’s “the official language in the U.S.  I need to speak and write it,”  but he believes technology is equally important because, “I want to learn computer to apply for a job.”

Another student, a young mother from Ethiopia, came to America because, “I want to live in a free country.” She says that in addition to learning English, “Computer skills have become more and more important as companies have started to depend upon computerized technology to get almost every work done.”

I am so very proud of my students for recognizing the importance of technology and embracing it with such determination.  Kudos to you and here’s looking towards an amazing future!

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

 


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