New Americans Visit the Library!

September 3, 2019

“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”              Albert Einstein

I always knew I wanted to be an English teacher – always. So you can probably guess that one of my most favorite places in the world is a public library. Whenever I moved to a new city, the very first thing I did was go get my library card. Ben Franklin did a lot for our country, but I rank his founding of free libraries as #1.

New Americans Visit the Library!

The gang in front of the Downtown Library.

Imagine my delight, then, in taking a fun and diverse group of students to the Sioux Falls Downtown Public Library, all of them for their very first time! Our school is right on the beautiful river walk, so Teacher Mary, Volunteer Karen, and I walked along the Big Sioux to 8th Street with everyone, and then two blocks later, we were at the library.

FIRST, though, we had to stop and take a picture underneath the “Arc of Dreams.” I sure can’t think of a better group to stand beneath this special sculpture than these brave people who have survived the unimaginable and are now realizing their dream of living in freedom in a safe and healthy community.

New Americans Visit the Library!

American dreamers underneath the Arc of Dreams!

The Downtown librarians greeted us warmly upon our arrival and ushered us into a conference room to explain the day: library tours, getting library cards, and time to explore.

New Americans Visit the Library!

Three smart and helpful librarians took care of us!

I really couldn’t have asked for a better day. I just about burst with pride as I watched them get their library cards—just think of how much their worlds expanded with that little piece of plastic. One student told me, “Teacher, I think I will come here a lot. No more sitting at home with the TV!”


Some students found books right away that they checked out; others explored the online learning the library offers. And others really enjoyed the comfy chairs. 🙂

A huge THANK YOU to the staff at the Downtown Public Library. You sure made our day special.

By Lindy Obach, LSS Center for New Americans ESL Instructor
300 E 6th St | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free

New Americans Take a Field Trip to the Old Courthouse Museum!

August 20, 2019

At the Center for New Americans, we work exceptionally hard to make sure our students feel welcome in our school, but we also work to make sure they feel welcome in the community. A great way to accomplish this is to take a field trip!

Because our little school is downtown, we are within walking distance of a number of fascinating, family-friendly sights to see.

This time, Teachers Heather and Lindy took their upper-level speaking students to the Old Courthouse Museum, a beautiful building in the heart of downtown.

The Old Courthouse Museum checks all our boxes:

  1. it’s free
  2. it’s a short walk away
  3. it’s educational
  4. it’s SUPER COOL!

Enjoy some pictures from our day!


Written By Lindy Obach | LSS Center for New Americans
ESL Instructor
300 E 6th St | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free

Strengthening Individuals, Families and Communities

Impressions of a 1st-year Teacher

January 15, 2019

Hi! I’m Lindy Obach, and up until a year ago, I spent my career nagging college students about comma splices and reading poetry. I taught college English for the University of South Dakota at University Center-Sioux Falls for 11 years. And then it was time for a change. At University Center, I realized quickly that the students I most enjoyed teaching were immigrants and refugees.

So, as I job-searched, I came across the LSS Center for New Americans. I submitted an application to be an On-Call Instructor, and after an interview and teaching demonstration, I was hired! I spent the first few months subbing and meeting students in all levels of our program. After subbing for awhile, a full-time position opened up, and I am very happy to be the newest full-time ESL teacher here.


Sharing food & fun with my Oral 4 students

One of the most paramount discoveries I’ve made since teaching at the Center for New Americans is just how truly connected we all are – how truly we are brothers and sisters. A Bhutanese student of mine has a sister who lives and works at a major hospital in Fargo; so do I. A Congolese student and I discovered that she lived for a while in my home area in North Dakota and that she attended the same small-town Catholic church I grew up in. A Ukrainian student has neighbors back home with the same last name as my paternal grandmother, herself a Ukrainian immigrant. This commonality, this sense of family, is what makes teaching here so completely special.


Sumitra & I at our graduation celebration

I knew when I stepped into a classroom at the CNA that this job would be different; what I didn’t realize was just how joyful and fun and life-changing this job would be.  Because of this job, I have hundreds of new friends (like Sumitra!). I have tried all sorts of new foods (momo, anyone?), learned phrases in about a dozen languages (ameseginalehu!), and watched the most dedicated, hardworking people develop their English skills and burst with confidence and pride. Because of this job, I have rediscovered the pure delight teaching brings. Every day I go home and tell my spouse, “Another great day with my students!”


A plate of momo, roti,& curry from one of my Lit 2 students

Teaching immigrants and refugees is the absolute best job. Real learning, gratitude, friendship, and community take place in our classrooms every day. When there is a birthday, a holiday, a new job, a graduation, a new baby, a wedding, or a day that ends in –y, we celebrate and our little school buzzes with happiness (and delicious food!).  I love watching my fellow teachers interact with our students – so many hugs and namaste’s and high-fives are exchanged throughout the day. We are truly a team of learners here at the Center for New Americans; I am very blessed to teach and teach alongside the most extraordinary people.

— Lindy Obach, ESL Teacher, LSS Center for New Americans






Does Home Ownership Make You American?

March 13, 2015

I recently had the opportunity to attend a week of training in Los Angeles. With something like 1800 people attending different classes, I knew I was going to meet some interesting people. Our respective homes stretched from Florida to California. I actually had a classmate from western South Dakota in my class as well as someone from Guam. How’s that for diversity? Talk about a lot of different perspectives!

Half way through the week I went to lunch with Victoria and Tamy and have since spent days processing through our conversation. Victoria immigrated to the US from Ecuador as an adult and now lives in Tampa. Tamy immigrated to the US at the age of 23. She and her family were refugees from Viet Nam after her father spent 10 years in prison for working with the US military. Tamy now lives in California. I quickly realized that I have lived a very ‘normal’, quiet life. Read the rest of this entry »

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