IN THE SPIRIT OF JOY

October 27, 2020

Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church upholds its name. 

Updated Technology in the Classrooms Helps Provide Successful Online Classes

A couple of years ago, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church had set aside money in their yearly Outreach budget to support a new refugee family.  However, this year in light of the pandemic, an alternative was needed for the designated funds.  The Outreach Committee discussed the situation with the LSS Development Department, and it was decided to donate the $5000 to the education department at the Center for New Americans in order to support technology in the classroom.

The LSS Center for New Americans provides English classes to preliterate through pre-GED students, vocational classes, and citizenship classes to refugees and immigrants within the Sioux Falls community.  The classrooms were dramatically changed this past March when the program searched for a safe, online solution.  As of today over 150 students are attending classes via Zoom, but with outdated laptops and lack of appropriate microphones and speakers, the initial launch of classes was accompanied with an array of technology challenges. 

This generous donation supported the purchase of essential technology for the Center for New Americans.  Classrooms are now equipped with instructor laptops, audio-speakers and microphones.  Now limited in-person students and virtual students will be able to communicate with their teachers and their classmates. 

Carole Chell, Outreach Team Leader, and also a volunteer for Lutheran Social Services, says, “I’m surprised how well it [using Zoom classrooms] has gone.  The students have adapted well!”

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 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

 


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


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