Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Perspectives

My name is Danny Mayasich, and this was my fourth semester working with Iskashitaa's HCET team. I continue to grow and learn the more I work with the amazing people who run this organization. From 4-6pm Monday and Wednesday, another University of Arizona undergrad, Amanda, and I taught English as a Second Language to a community of Nepalese refugees at the apartments at 29th st and Alvernon. Our students ranged from grandmothers to grandchildren, fluent English speakers to people who spoke no English at all. It was a different mix every class, and it was a blast.

Our overall goals for the year in the classroom were to aid them in getting around Tucson, expose them to common items and aspects of American life, and most importantly make their transition to this country a bit easier. Our curriculum included a broad range of activities, including board games, card games, puzzles, lectures, writing exercises, oral exercises, trips to the library, and getting out and involved in Tucson. That brings me to the next area of work that Iskashitaa does besides ESL. When we weren’t in the classroom, us teachers were helping out with harvests around Tucson (which ranged from someone’s backyard with a couple trees to a 100+ acre pumpkin farm), culling fruit, making preserves, and juicing. We also spent time with crafts, sewing, and helping out at fairs and festivals where refugees had the opportunity to get out in the community and sell their goods.

Some refugees come here with nothing, and it can be very hard for them to find a job - especially in the current economy. Iskashitaa offers these wonderful people the chance to work with other members of the community and use their skills to get them some.

I love everything about the work that Iskashitaa does, and I have become a much better person because of it. It’s way too easy to take for granted the multitude of blessings I have as a Caucasian American in an upper-middle class family. Mon, Sabitra, Ratna, Sabeka, Samna, Ghana, Bhim, Him, Menuka, Jarna, Arjun, Don, Rogita, and Kirti have given me a new perspective on life, and they have shown me through their smiles and their actions what the true meaning of happiness is.

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