Freedom, Peace, & Fast Food

May 28, 2019

In the Center for New Americans’ pre-GED English class, we just finished a 6-week long unit on the American government system.  The students read and wrote about the ways the three branches of government work together to make our country a better place. We also spent time learning about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (learn more about this monumental legislation HERE!) and how one woman’s fight for equal pay changed our nation’s laws.

To end our unit, I had my students work on their skills by writing about the US and our government; one prompt I gave them was: “Describe America in 3 words.” Of course, I loved their answers and hope you do, too.


The pre-GED English class busily and happily typing away on the laptops.

  • Another word we call America is as “Land of opportunity” because this nation offers many more opportunities for residents of this nation. But the people most be eager to do he/she wants with full attention and hard working to achieve goals. This is reason why everyone dreams to live in America. – Student from Nepal


  • America is peace because there is no war, not too much of sickness all over the country like Africa. In America, you always find people willing to help you out with any problem that you are going through. Americans are always there for us. The U.S. is freedom because everyone is free to do what so ever things they like to do. We are free to say anything to anybody whenever they wrong us or say anything bad to us and walk freely anywhere. Freedom is the most important thing in our lives. America is experience because you see lot of things that you haven’t seen before. You go to movies, play grounds, shopping mall.– Student from Liberia


  • United States is Good because help to all people, if you have hungry gives you food, you get cold gives you jackets. United States has Nobility because gives to all people the same opportunities. United States is a Big country and each state has many economic wealth, beautiful landscapes and peoples– Student from Mexico


  • Freedom, fast food, and happy. Freedom because all the people have this and can’t go jail for what you are saying. Fast food because wherever you go always you can see a lot of place to fast food. Happy because if you are working hard you can buy all you want. – Student from Nicaragua


  • America is freedom. Why because it has a way of life that enable people to live freely with in the country without fighting each other. America also make people who are from a different culture back ground enable them to live freely within the country. America also allow freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government, run for office and also the right to vote with in the country. – Student from Sudan

My students constantly amaze me with their skills, vocabulary, and wonderful personalities.  My 3 words to describe these students are courageous, intelligent, and kind, and I am so glad they are here in America, experiencing all the freedom, peace, and fast food 🙂 they like.

Written by Lindy Obach, ESL Instructor


Winter Reflections

February 12, 2019

Well, the deep freeze has hit us here in Sioux Falls, and for many of our students, this type of frigid weather is a new experience. In my advanced speaking class, we are studying poetry, and when my students were asked to think of something they were afraid of, many of them answered, “Cold weather!”

I asked my Pre-GED English students their thoughts on our winters in South Dakota. Using the sentence starters “When it snows, I …” and “Winter in my country is different from winter here because …” here’s what they wrote. Enjoy!

“When it snows, I look for any reason to go outside because I love the snow. I could be outside all day doing things like going to the grocery store, gas station, The Mall


picture from

on 41st street or just driving around Sioux Falls. When I drive I try to take some  photos or videos so that I can show to my friends from Argentina; they all love it because in Salta we don’t get snow.


Winter in the Northwest of Argentina is totally different. Winter starts in July and is not really cold; It could be 32 but not very cold.” -Student from Argentina who’s been in Sioux Falls for 7 months

“When it snows, I stay at home with my family, because it is warm; also I like to cook. My home is more comfortable, because I like to cook beef soup, chicken soup, and fish soup.


picture from wikipedia

I really enjoy cook this because my home is more warm, and -my body too.


Winter in my home town call Quesada Jutiapa is very good, winter time start on May until November. So, in Quesada sometimes is warm and sometimes is a little cool but not like here. In South Dakota we can see 4 seasons, winter, fall, spring, summer. In my country just 3 seasons not snow.”  –Student from Guatemala who’s been in Sioux Falls for 3 years

“When it snows, I feel good and I like the snow because we have to double up; and I like that very much it makes me feel warm and good and when it snow I like to cook fufu* and soup because it take away the cold from the body and it reduce the coldness. Also when it snow it makes you keep in door and makes you sleep all day for me and also for some people. When it also snow I like to play in the snow and also like to takes pictures with my family and friends.

Winter in my home country in my country during the winter we don’t see snow but we experience rain than snow. And also during the winter we also experience more sun than the winter in America. The weather is always warm and hot so we don’t experience snow but we experience more sun.” -Student from Liberia who’s been in Sioux Falls for 4 months


picture from

*Fufu is a staple food common in West African countries. It’s made by pounding starches like cassava, yams, or plantains into a dough-like consistency; it’s eaten with the fingers and can be dipped into soups or sauces.


I am SO impressed with their writing skills. Can you tell we’ve been working on semicolons? I also love reading how our students think about something that so many of us native Midwesterners take for granted or think of as ordinary (or as something awful!). These students are able to find the good.

Written by Lindy Obach, ESL and Citizenship teacher, Center for New Americans

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






“He makes me happy.” One mentor and his story.

July 8, 2014

Happy, kind and athletic are three words Holden, a soon-to-be sixth grader, used to describe his mentor, Greg Jasmer. The two share a unique bond that has grown over meeting with each other for since Holden was in Kindergarten. Read the rest of this entry »

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