Christmas Celebrations From around the World – Reflections from CNA’s Staff

December 28, 2021

One of the wonderful things about working at the Center for New Americans is getting to interact with people from all different countries and cultures. In addition to our students and clients, we also have a diverse staff from many different countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. Read below as a few of our staff members share Christmas traditions from their countries!

The Christkind, who brings gifts to German children on Christmas Eve.

Teacher Silke Hansen (Germany) – “In Germany, our main celebration day is on December 24th. In my family, Christmas Eve is when we put up the Christmas tree and we always had a real tree! Most workers have the 25th and 26th off to visit with family and friends (usually family on the 25th and friends on the 26th).  Presents are delivered not by Santa Claus but by an angelic figure called Christkind on Christmas Eve. In my family, after dinner on December 24th, my siblings and I would go upstairs to our bedrooms while Christkind (AKA: mom and dad) put gifts under the tree. After this, they would ring the doorbell and run upstairs to our rooms asking, “Did you hear the door? Do you think the Christkind came to visit?” Then we would race downstairs to open our gifts! We usually ate a light supper on Christmas Eve and had our big meal on Christmas Day. We normally ate Rouladen (meat stuffed with onions, pickles and bacon), Mehlknoedel (dumplings) and red cabbage with gravy.”

An igitenge worn by many Congolese women.

Caseworker Tez Kiruhura (Democratic Republic of the Congo) – “Christmas back home is different than Christmas here. In my family, we eat fufu (a porridge made from cassava), rice, lots of meat (goat, beef and chicken) and we drink soda and milk. We gather together as a family to eat and give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. It’s traditional that everyone gets new clothes on Christmas. Women usually wear an igitenge (dress) made of bright, multicolored fabric and matching head scarf made of same fabric. There is not always money for gifts but if there is, we exchange them on Christmas. Going to church is an important tradition. We go to church on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday closest to Christmas. It’s always three days because that represents the resurrection of Jesus. There is usually a guest preacher for these church services.”

Shoes stuffed with surprises after a visit from St. Nicolas.

Caseworker Lilly Jasarovic (Bosnia/Serbia) – “Christmas is similar to what it is here in America. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on the January 7th, not December 25th. Bosnia is very religiously diverse and it’s common for Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims to go to church to celebrate on January 7th. For Christmas dinner, the meal always starts with plum brandy. Many people eat beef and noodle soup, cabbage rolls, Trappista cheese, pickled vegetables, strudels and cakes. One Orthodox tradition is to make a special loaf of bread with a coin, a heart-shaped token, a tree branch and other objects placed inside. Families bake and then cut the bread and whoever finds a certain object is supposed to receive a special blessing in the New Year. The coin brings success, the heart brings love and the branch brings health. Another fun tradition that children enjoy is St. Nicolas’ Day on December 19. According to tradition, on this day, Saint Nicolas leaves sweets and small toys in the shoes of children.”

Kate Harris  ESL Instructor & Career Navigator 

LSS Center for New Americans

P:  605-731-2000  | F:  605-731-2059

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


Volunteer of the Year: 2021

October 26, 2021


Karen: LSS 2021 Volunteer of the Year

The English classrooms at the Center for New Americans rely heavily on the support and expertise of volunteers. Volunteers aid the teacher in classroom management (both online and in person), assist one-on-one tutoring, lead classroom and small group activities, and provide support to the teachers in numerous ways.


Each year the Education Program has the opportunity to honor one of our hardworking volunteers and nominate them for the Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award for LSS of SD. This past week, our nominee, Karen Kraus, was recognized at the 2021 Distinguished Volunteer of the Year.


Here’s her nomination:
Karen Kraus started volunteering at the LSS Center for New Americans on 12/14/2016. Since her first day she has provided 460 hours of ESL classroom help for our adult Refugee and Immigrant students.


She has worked with all the English class levels and has also tutored one-to-one a student who had no prior literacy with the challenging task of learning to decode. Karen has been an amazing volunteer – flexible and consistent – in supporting the Education Program at LSS.


When the pandemic closed our in-person classrooms, she reached out to her assigned teacher to see how she could still help. While volunteers typically work once a week for two hours, she joined the online students in Zoom every day until other volunteers could be trained. At the training meetings, she was able to speak with the other volunteers, answering their questions about how it felt to assist in Zoom. She encouraged them to jump in and continue to help out even if they could not see the student due to technology challenges. She spoke about how the students still needed their volunteers more than ever in the Zoom Classrooms.


Karen brings amazing qualities and skills to our English Language Classes at LSS. Patient, insightful and collaborative – Karen communicates clearly and effectively with true beginners. She is a talented co-teacher in any classroom and a treasured partner in the team effort that is equipping our adult English learners with knowledge of the language, literacy and the content they need to communicate and succeed as new residents of South Dakota.


Here are a few of Karen’s insights about volunteering at LSS Center for New Americans.


What are some of your favorite memories from working with a student/in class?
I especially have enjoyed the following experiences:

o Assisting a student who just sounded out a word and seeing the big smile on their face!

o I love it when a joke is shared and understood even through our language barriers!

o The students call all of us “Teacher.” I can tell it is a term of honor by the way they say it.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at CNA?
For me, it feels like an honor to be a small part of an English Language Learners’ journey. I strongly encourage anyone who might be interested to give this a try. The classroom teachers will first ask you to observe, then will give you direction on how to work directly with students. It’s a chance to meet people from other cultures, right here in Sioux Falls. I learn so much. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it allows me to volunteer in a meaningful way.

Would YOU like to join our team as a classroom volunteer?
Contact diana.streleck@lsssd.org
Apply Here
https://lsssd.org/what-we-do/center-for-new-americans/volunteerapplication.html

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


The Problem with Stress

June 15, 2021
Photo by Errin Casano on Pexels.com

Today we had the vocabulary word, “defect.”  This is a simple enough word, commonly used in both written and spoken English.  It means of course that is something is not quite right; an item is not quite perfect.  It is defective. 

However, that same word takes on a whole new meaning with a different pronunciation.  A simple change of stress from the first syllable to the second, and now we have “to defect,” i.e. to leave one’s country in order to live in a competitor country.

Word stress can completely change the meaning.  It is this simple misplacement of stress that can confuse many people, and it is also one of the many challenges that my English learners encounter in the classroom.  Typically nouns in English stress the first syllable and the same word as a verb will stress the second syllable, but of course there are always exceptions and variables that students work on learning. 

Here a list of some of the most common multi-syllabic homographs in English:

the desert vs to desert

a minute vs something minute

refuse vs to refuse

a project vs to project

an object vs to object

As an English speaker, I follow the stress-timed rhythm of English to clarify and understand what is being communicated.  I naturally open my mouth wider, speak longer and louder, clearer, and change my pitch to stress the correct syllable of each word. 

Unfortunately word stress cannot be learned overnight.  In the past seven months of teaching intermediate English speakers, my class has had a daily warm-up to recognize both the number of syllables and the stressed syllable in words.  This seemingly simple activity has been eagerly embraced and practiced by the students.  My students want to speak “good English” and to be understood by everyone, and being able to both recognize and produce words with correct stress is an important step towards their goal.

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


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


Voices of Inspiration

December 17, 2019

voicesofinspiration1

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!

voicesofinspiration2

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!

voicesofinspiration3

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


When We Reach Our Dreams! New Citizens in South Dakota

November 12, 2019

studentsandteachersatcitceremony

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.

newcitswithamericanflag

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


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.

IMG_1762

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


Technology in the Classroom at the Center for New Americans

September 18, 2019

technology1

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

 


Black Hills Federal Credit Union Donation

August 13, 2019

blackhillscreditunioncheck

Black Hills Credit Union presents the Center for New Americans with a check for $1800.00

 

Community support is vital to our success.  Recently the Black Hills Federal Credit Union chose to lend a helping hand and support our English program here at the Center for New Americans.  A donation of $1800.00 was given towards the purchase of much needed document readers in our classrooms, and with this donation, we were able to purchase a document reader for every classroom. In addition, their generous donation enabled us to purchase extra headphones, new power adapters for our laptops, and a replacement laptop for our mobile student computer lab.  Our instructors are so thrilled and very thankful for the new document cameras that enable them to project images of papers and other items on the whiteboards.  The Doc Cams were immediately put to use.

Students at the Center for New Americans range in age from 18 to 95. Some of the students come as far away as Bhutan or China or as close as Eritrea or Congo.  Some students are neighbors from El Salvador or Venezuela.  Some students come with minimal English whereas others may have a great foundation.  Regardless, all the students have one common goal:  Learn More English.

blackhillscredituniondoccameras

New Document Cameras Waiting to be Installed in the Classrooms

All our students will benefit greatly from this generous gift as teachers use them in the classroom.

We want to thank the Black Hills Federal Credit Union for their dedication to the community and their wonderful support to our program.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

https://www.bhfcu.com/

Students using one of the document cameras and headphones to learn how to use tablets in the classroom.

 

doccampic1

LSS English Instructor Laura uses the document camera in the classroom

 

 

A document camera is used to project a workbook map during citizenship class.

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

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

605-731-2041 Teacher’s Office | 1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

www.LssSD.org


Why English? From the Mouth of a Student

July 9, 2019

Refugees-around-the-world

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a total of 22,491 refugees came to the United States in 2018, and the largest number of refugees came from the countries of Congo, Myanmar, Ukraine, Bhutan, and Eritrea.  It goes without saying that the main languages of these countries are not English but rather Congolese, French, Kayah, Ukrainian, Russian, Tigrinya, Kunama, and a handful of other tribal languages.  For these grateful refugees, it becomes a matter of extreme importance to learn English once they reach the United States.  To simply navigate a grocery store or secure employment or pay a bill, refugees must have a basic working knowledge of English.  That’s where the instructors at LSS step in, providing a hand up to help get over the mountain.  We are so very proud of our students’ accomplishments and dedication.

Recently one such enthusiastic student spoke about the importance of learning the English language.  Here is what he passionately told all the other students here at the Center for New Americans:

“So this is my first time talking in public.  I’m nervous.  I’m pretty sure I will have too many mistakes, but that’s okay because that is the reason we are here.

We are here for to learn.  We are hear for to learn speak, for to learn write, for to learn read, for to learn listen.  There are four skills.  Everybody we need learn that.

I know it’s no easy.  But nothing is easy in this life.  So I think if you work hard, if you work with discipline and consistency, you can get it.

So almost everybody here in this room, we have something in common.  We are here to this beautiful country, finding something.  Finding a best life.  But we have a problem because this beautiful country have [a lot of] opportunities, but almost everybody speak English here.  So that is the main reason because we need to learn this language, everybody.  We need to work hard for get it good.  I think so.  No we need to work hard just for living.  We need to work hard for make difference.  We need to make difference and help another people, every day.  So for that we need dreams.  We need dreams, but no just dreams, we need dreams with goals because dreams without goals are just dreams.  We need to say life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals, every day.  And we need work hard.  So I believe in everybody.  I believe in me.  I think so, you just, we need to keep going and get it.  So I think so, that’s it.”

 

Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor


%d bloggers like this: