Closer Connections Conference to be held in Sioux Falls November 8 & 9

October 18, 2017

PATHS jpg

This coming month Lutheran Services of South Dakota and Dakota TESL will be hosting the 2017 Closer Connections Conference, Pioneering New PATHS:  Promoting Acquisition to Heighten Success.

The Closer Connections Conference includes:

  • Best practices for teaching English Language Learners at all ages and levels of proficiency
  • Cultural panels
  • Breakout sessions on refugee resettlement and immigration
  • Networking opportunities

I was able to talk to Dakota TESL President-elect, Diana Streleck, who said, “The Closer Connection Conference provides teachers and community members a venue in which to discuss and learn about the educational needs and cultural backgrounds of the English Language Learner in our communities.”

Thanks in part to the South Dakota Humanities Council, the one of the keynote speakers of the conference will be, Dr. Amer Ahmed, a prominent national speaker and intercultural diversity consultant, who will deliver a keynote address and discussion session, “Addressing Islamophobia: Dispelling Myths to Break Down Barriers.”

Ahmed

Amer F. Ahmed, Ed. D., is an individual with an eclectic personal and professional background. As an intercultural diversity consultant, college administrator, facilitator, poet and Hip Hop activist, he channels his diverse experiences towards effectively changing how we interact with the world around us.  Born in Springfield, Ohio, to Indian Muslim immigrants, Amer has dedicated his life to engaging and facilitating diversity across human difference. Powerful study abroad experiences in South Africa and Nepal have been enhanced by his deep interest in anthropology and Black Studies. His Indian-Muslim-American upbringing, together with his education and international experiences form the basis of his message to his audiences—respect and dignity for all people.

The second keynote speaker will be, Dr. John Schmidt, an educator, trainer, program developer and administrator with extensive international experience will present a keynote address and break-out session reflecting on “At Home in the World: Building Language Skills to House ESL Acquisition.”

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The great-grandson of Norwegian immigrants to Wisconsin, John was raised in the Upper Midwest. In sixth grade he was introduced to a second language, Spanish, by his teacher from Cuba. This encounter was the beginning of his world travels which led him to studying and working in Spain as well as training teachers and developing programs for a variety of educational entities on all five continents.  He currently teaches ESL for the Texas Intensive English Program (TIEP) in Austin, Texas. In addition, he has volunteered his time and expertise in various capacities with TESOL International and Toastmasters International. He has co-authored several ESL textbooks addressing teaching, grammar and English for Specific Purposes.

The Closer Connections Conference gives the local community the opportunity to learn about refugees and immigrants from different countries, listen to international speakers, and engage in interactive sessions to understand diversity in our community.

If you would like to register for the conference, please visit the Dakota TESL website:  http://dakotatesl.com/ for more information.

Posted by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor and Dakota TESL Secretary

 


Learning through Sharing: World Refugee Day Recap

June 30, 2016

Last Monday, June 20th was World Refugee Day, an international day to raise awareness of the situation of the 21.3 million refugees in the world today.  To recognize the day, the Center for New Americans hosted an open house where former refugees shared their stories of struggle and starting over. Members from LSS and the community came together to listen to and learn from these stories and try food from around the world.

Felix Ngirabakunzi, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the terrifying tale of the war coming to his village and forcing his family to flee.  Through perseverance, hard work and the grace of God, he and his family made it to Uganda where he received help through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees organization.

Felix Ngirabakunzi, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the terrifying tale of the war coming to his village and forcing his family to flee. Through perseverance, hard work and the grace of God, he and his family made it to Uganda where he received help through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees organization.

 

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Community members learn how organizations like LSS help refugees when they arrive. LSS offers case management services, educational services, interpretation services, immigration services and employment services to immigrants and former refugees in the community.

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Deborah Deng, from South Sudan, explains the challenges and barriers facing new arrivals in America, like learning a new language, finding employment, and meeting others in the community.

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Mohamed Ahmed, from Somalia, describes the difficult conditions of refugee camps in Kenya.  Mohamed lived in the Dadaab refugee camp for 24 years before being resettled to Sioux Falls three years ago.  Government corruption and food shortages are common circumstances affecting refugees around the world.

 

 


June 20th- World Refugee Day

June 20, 2014

Today, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), LSS Center for New Americans honors World Refugee Day, a day to become informed of the plight of millions of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons.

Today is a call to remember and a call to act!Unhcr_logo

So what can you do?

Join us today from 2-4 pm at our new location downtown at 114 S. Main Ave to learn about our resettlement services and refugee populations served in South Dakota.

• Get involved in the work of welcoming with LSS Center for New Americans through mentoring a recently arrived refugee family or assisting in our ESL classrooms. Click here to get started.

• Host your own World Refugee Day event by screening a topical film at your home and inviting your friends and family. Here are some film suggestions from the UNHCR.

• Facilitate a discussion with your small group, place of worship, friends or family members about issues facing refugees. Contact LSS Center for New Americans for possible guest speakers. Our number is (605) 731-2000.

• Support financially the welcoming work of LSS Center for New Americans and other resettlement agencies.

• Interact and learn from experiencing the UNHCR’s online simulation Against All Odds http://www.playagainstallodds.ca/ (Note: this online simulation may not be suitable for small children.)

• Get creative! People all over the world are hosting events in honor of this day and a quick online search can provide you will many wonderful ideas!


Join Us on World Refugee Day!

June 10, 2014

June 20th marks the global observance of the United Nations’ World Refugee Day, a day to remember and act on behalf of the 15.4 million refugees worldwide.[1] Unhcr_logo

World Refugee Day was adopted in a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on December 4, 2000. The resolution noted that the following year, 2001, marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, a key legal document defining refugee status, rights, and the legal obligations of states.

In recognition of this day and the contribution refugees have made to our community, LSS Center for New Americans is hosting a time of informational tours and ice cream at our new downtown location!

Join us Friday, June 20th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm to tour our new building at 114 S. Main Ave and learn about the resettlement services offered under our roof while enjoying a refreshing treat. No need to RSVP.    

We look forward to seeing you on World Refugee Day!

114 S Main Ave

114 S Main Ave

[1] ”New UNHCR Report says Global Forced Displacement at 18-Year-High” UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency. June 19, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2014. http://www.unhcr.org/51c071816.html.


World Refugee Day: A place to call home

June 28, 2013
On June 17th, about 40 people listened to a panel discussion featuring volunteers and refugees.

On June 17th, about 40 people listened to a panel discussion featuring volunteers and refugees.

On Monday, June 17th, about 40 people gathered at the Main Library in celebration of World Refugee Day. After watching two mini-documentaries, the group heard from some of those featured in the films: mentors Becky Sather Durr, Maria Guarraci, and Sarah Zoutendam and refugee mentee Khagendra Chhetri.

In the films and the panel, the audience learned about the joys and challenges of refugee mentor relationships.

The panelists—both volunteers and refugees—began by sharing their stories of uprooting and beginning again, finding themselves in Sioux Falls after living in Nebraska or Jordan or Bhutan.

“A place to call home is important to so many people,” said Sarah Zoutendam. Sarah was born in Jordan to American parents and has traveled to and worked in many countries since. “I’ve lived in enough different places that I don’t take home for granted anymore.”

Becky and Maria, who worked with Khagendra Chhetri and his family, described some of their mentorship activities that made everyone feel more at home: canoeing, sharing meals, and, of course, shopping.

In addition to discussing the importance of home, the mentors also stressed the importance of mutuality in mentor relationships—instead of “helping” refugees, the best mentor relationships are ones where all parties are givers and receivers. It can’t be a one-way street; it must be a two-way highway.

“It sounds bad, but I think you can volunteer for selfish reasons, because you want to learn about another culture,” Maria Guarraci said. “And the Chhetris have taught me so much.”

Khagendra Chhetri agreed. His family became friends with Maria, Becky, and their book club when they arrived to Sioux Falls from a refugee camp in Nepal last summer. He felt similarly about the giving and receiving that transform mentors into family members.

“They [mentors] teach me about American culture and I share my culture with them through food, festivals, music, and drumming,” Khagendra said. “I am very happy with my American family.”

World Refugee Day (June 20th) is an international day to honor the courage and contribution of refugees worldwide. If you would like to celebrate this day by beginning a refugee mentor relationship of your own, please contact our office at (605) 731-2000.

To contribute to the work of welcoming the stranger, make a financial gift to LSS today.

[Post by Amy S.Z.]


Still time to reserve your seat for World Refugee Day 2013

June 11, 2013

Adhikaris

Next Monday, you’re invited to celebrate

WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2013!

Mini-Documentary Viewing

Monday, June 17, 2013

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Main Library, 200 N. Dakota Ave, Sioux Falls

In honor of World Refugee Day, Lutheran Social Services Refugee and Immigration Center invites you to view mini-documentaries sharing the stories of refugees and volunteers in Sioux Falls. Their stories are stories of courage, friendship, and hope—you won’t want to miss it.

Following the viewing, we’ll host a panel discussion with the people featured in the mini-documentaries.

The event is FREE, but please RSVP to reserve your seat:

Call 731-2000 and ask for Amy S.Z.

See you there!


You’re invited: World Refugee Day celebration!

May 30, 2013

Adhikaris Tej pray

“We have to focus on humanity—not religion, not color, not caste. If we start to focus on the humanity, then it will leave our life very happy.” –Tej Adhikari

Come and celebrate WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2013 with us this year!  

In honor of World Refugee Day, Lutheran Social Services Refugee and Immigration Center invites you to view mini-documentaries sharing the stories of refugees and volunteers in Sioux Falls. We’ll also hear from the people featured in the mini-documentaries with a panel discussion.

WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Main Library, 200 N. Dakota Ave, Sioux Falls

The event is FREE, but please RSVP to reserve your seat:

Call (605) 731-2000 and ask for Amy S.Z.

More details to come, but please save the date and call to reserve your seat.

See you soon!

[Post by Amy S.Z.]


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