Time for a Change

April 7, 2017

Spring is in the air! This morning I saw a bird singing on the parking ramp railing, and I even dared to wear sandals and capris this week.  Everywhere I look there is green grass poking up and any trace of snow has disappeared.  It’s certainly a time for renewing and growing.

Boxes, chairs, and tables ready for the big move to East Bank


With that being said, LSS Center for New Americans has been very busy this week packing for our move to the Campus on East Bank. After waiting, talking, touring, and waiting some more, it seems surreal to be packing up everything and moving into our new building.  Teachers and students alike are excited about the move.  For months students have been asking about the new building, and are so very eager to start this new chapter in their lives. Many students are happy about the little things (or maybe they are the big things) that will come with the new building such as a parking lot and a nearby bus stop.  Teachers are excited to have permanent classrooms and a place to call “ours.”


It is of course bittersweet to be leaving the building we have occupied for the past three years. I found I was a little teary eyed on Tuesday as we held our last classes in the “old school.”  However, my students were very happy to hear that the tables, the chairs, and (most importantly) the teachers, would be moving to the new school and would be greeting them when English class starts again.

Boxes and boxes all ready to go


Stacks of packed boxes and empty rooms greet us now, but soon we will be unpacking again and setting up new classrooms. It is time for our new journey to begin.  So this week, we are dreaming of the changes about to come…new building, new classrooms, new experiences…and it feels quite appropriate that spring is here now.

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

From “No English” to “No interpreter”: Emma’s story

September 27, 2013

Emma started English classes before at the LSS Refugee and Immigration Center, but eventually stopped attending because she was tired from work.  “I was in Class 2 and 3, then…when I started my job in 1999, I don’t need English.”  Originally from Honduras, Emma first lived in California before coming to Sioux Falls for work.  “I come here…very, very nice…for job…for quiet.  I like my job.”

Emma eventually returned to English class and has now graduated to Level 4, but measures her English ability in a different way. “Now, I’m not nervous.  I go to the doctor…I go to the dentist…I don’t need interpreter.  I’m very, very happy.“ 

Her current teacher, Deanna Streeter, says “Emma came up through our program.  Many teachers worked with her.  She is a group success for our program!”

Emma, whose daily schedule goes like this: “I work 9 hours everyday.  I take a shower.  I eat.  I rest…maybe half an hour and I come here” would like to see more English classes offered in the evenings at the Refugee and Immigration Center. “I think we need 4 days of English,” she said before quickly slipping back into her classroom to join her classmates, classmates who have also worked full days at their own jobs and who come to class every Tuesday and Thursday evening to learn the language of the place they now all call “home.”

Emma and her current teacher, Deanna

Emma and her current teacher, Deanna

Before I say goodbye . . .

July 16, 2013
Co-workers and friends Deborah Deng and Amy S.Z.

Co-workers and friends Deborah Deng and Amy S.Z.

This is my last week here. I’ve worked at LSS Refugee & Immigration for the last 4 years, and it has been a beautiful thing. Grad school is summoning me east, but I will miss this office and the people who fill it.

I’ve learned so much while working with people from around the world . . .

I’ve learned that spicy is relative to one’s taste buds.

I’ve learned that racism is still alive and well, but so are people working actively against it.

I’ve learned to avoid the word “helping”—the only way to improve someone’s life is to realize that you need them too.

I’ve learned that persistence is not overrated—it’s vital to doing any good in this world.

When there’s no common language, I’ve learned that playing a rousing game of charades can be surprisingly effective in explaining yourself.

I’ve learned that hospitality is a spiritual act, right up there with prayer.

I’ve learned from the eyes and the scars of my friends that war is evil; it encompasses torture, home burnings, gang rape, starvation . . . and we should never idealize it.

I’ve learned that politicians can’t save the world, but they sure can help or hurt efforts to.

I’ve learned that the exporting of media largely filmed in balmy Hollywood, California gives people an extra shock when they first encounter snow.

I’ve learned that people can overcome their upbringing, even if they were raised in a refugee camp.

I’ve learned that people can overcome their upbringing, even if they were taught to love money.

I’ve learned that I can’t change everything, I can’t control everything, but I can stubbornly speak up for justice and peace.

I’ve learned that chai means more than a tasty drink—it also means friendship. 

I’ve learned that the most courageous people in this world are refugees; I will miss these friends. 

[Post by Amy S.Z.]

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