The New Year is synonymous with a fresh start.  As December draws to a close, many people commit to a resolution---often to manage their health, money, or time better.    For a refugee leaving behind their home and culture, a new beginning can seem overwhelming.  However, despite challenges and fears, refugees arrive in the U.S. with concrete goals for the future.

Prior to Christmas break, Karen Edwards, WRDA ESL Instructor in DuPage, gave her students a goal-setting assignment from their Step Forward 2 textbook.  Students were asked to read an article about a person who wanted to become a chef, which led to a class discussion of goals and the steps required to reach the goal.  Edwards decided to take the assignment further and asked the students to write a paragraph about their personal goal.  And because many of the students are creative and artistic, she also asked them to draw an illustration. 

“The assignment came alive when the students shared their goals during class in small groups,” said Edwards.

Sensing the students’ enthusiasm, Edwards asked if anyone wanted to come to the front of the class and be recorded on video---and several students were brave enough to do it.  According to Edwards, students who shared on camera not only talked about their goals, but their dreams too!

Adil Idris Adam Ali has been in the U.S for only 11 months.  Originally from the Sudan, he enjoys exploring nature and working outside. As a result, his goal is to become a geologist; however, in order to reach this goal, Adil knows that he must continue with English classes. Currently, he works third shift packaging magazines for distribution, but hopes to be moved to the first shift soon so that he can start taking classes at College of DuPage.

Maha Mohamed was resettled by WRDA approximately 18 month ago.  She was working towards becoming a nurse in her home country of Sudan prior to fleeing to Egypt for safety.  Today, she still dreams about becoming a nurse; therefore, she continues to attend WRDA ESL classes to improve her English.  Maha’s goal is to start nursing school in three years.  However, nursing is not her only goal.  Due to her love of baking, Maha’s second dream is to be a chef.

Exiled from his home country of Burma, Kaw Tha Blay spent 13 years in a refugee camp prior to being resettled by World Relief in DuPage.  Fortunately, Kaw was able to attend school in the camp and learn some English, but he craves more education.  In fact, he wants to earn a teaching degree so that he can teach others English and how to use a computer.  After experiencing so much conflict in Burma, Kaw believes that in order for people to live in peace together they must be educated; therefore, he hopes to reach his goal of becoming a teacher by the year 2030.

When Bibi Rai was just 16 years-old, he fled the Bhutan with his family for a refugee camp in Napal, where they lived for 18 years.  Because his father passed away when Bibi was young, he only attended school for a couple of years because he had to help support his family.  However, with little education and no understanding of English, he has landed a job, earned a driver’s license, and purchased a car.  Mechanically inclined, Bibi is now working towards his goal of becoming a car mechanic.  He would like to start preparing for his new career now, but knows that he must improve his English speaking and writing skills. Ideally, his dream is to start his training in the next six months.

Learning to speak, read, and write the English is the foundation to achieving any goal for a newly arrived refugee.  If you would like to be a part of helping someone realize their dream by becoming an ESL tutor, contact Jamie Daling, Volunteer Services Manager, at 630-462-7566 x 1046 or