THE NEED - AFGHANISTAN
Most of the Afghans who arrived in Cleveland after the fall of Kabul in 2021 are not conversational in English. A few speak just the bare minimum, and many are pre-literate. For them to live, work, and integrate into our culture and way of life, learning English is the first major step.
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, TRR relaunched its Adult Tutoring Program in 2022. This program pairs Afghan individuals and families with volunteer tutors who meet once a week in person for a minimum of 1.5 hours. The lessons will take place in the homes of the families, as many face transportation barriers which would prevent most from participating in such a program.
Tutors help learners with basic conversational skills and cultural connection. An ESL teacher supports tutors by making digital and hands-on materials, activities, and a book available as well as working with them to plan appropriate lessons for their specific learners.
Another important piece of our program is digital literacy. When needed, laptops have been provided to learners who have also been connected with internet providers. Learning to live in America is to also learn how to navigate all the online applications and submissions that are part of our everyday lives: healthcare, benefits, (un)employment, school - all have online components that we take for granted, but that are absolutely overwhelming to newcomers.
Our Afghan learners are mostly women, although many are accompanied in class by their husbands. Most of the women are young and have young children of their own, who may also be home during class time. Many of our learners have had little to no formal education in their home country and have hardly had any experience with English, if any at all. As true beginners in English, they are eager to learn and connect. Many of our tutors have quickly formed friendships with their learners and their families while sharing meals and bonding through cultural exchange.
A successful tutor:
is patient with their students’ learning journey.
is able to commit to the program for at least 6 months.
is reliable and willing to communicate regularly with staff.
is understanding and accepting of realities that are different from their own.
is flexible and creative.
takes advantage of training opportunities and resources provided to improve the learning experience.
Tutors are the most critical piece of this program. We are deeply grateful to all the women who volunteer their time to assist these families as they navigate their new lives in Cleveland. Our tutors come from all walks of life: homemakers, college professors, nonprofit executives, young professionals, nuns and so on. They all share a common thread: the care and commitment to helping our learners integrate into our culture and way of life while still maintaining their own identity and connection with their culture.