Friday, March 30, 2012

Additional Volunteer Needs

We need:


Help feed families and not landfills by join us for a harvest.


Do you want to meet wonderful people and organizations in Tucson? Redistribute locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Donations Coordinator:

Help us find donations for Iskashitaa program participants.

To find out more about these and other volunteer opportunities, contact Lizbeth, our Volunteer Coordinator.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Did you Know?

Since 2007, Iskashitaa has mentored Honors Civic Engagement Teams (HCET) from the Honors College at the University of Arizona.

Read an interview with two of our interns here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

HCET 3-23

The HCETers are back in action! Annie and I had a few weeks off because of Spring Break but we are excited to get back to harvesting. Due to the frost last year lots of fruit trees aren't producing fruit. However, we know there are still some trees out there that are producing and aren't being harvested. We do not want any food to go to waste and so with that in mind Annie and I set out to flyer around Tucson. We also made phone calls to the tree owner database. Hopefully by next week the office will have been flooded with calls requesting that someone from Iskashitaa comes out and harvests their trees! No fruit left behind!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sewing & Crafts: Materials and Volunteers Needed

The sewing and crafts program is looking for donations of full skeins of yarn with the labels still attached, as well as large pieces of fabric.

We are also looking for sewing teachers, sewing class aides, interpreters (must speak Nepali, Kiswahili, or French), and other volunteers!

Contact Emily to learn more!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recipe Contest!

Do you have a recipe that uses local ingredients? Enter your recipe in our recipe contest! The grand prize winner will receive a hand-crafted Burundi basket filled with refugee-made local delicacies such as desert marmalade, Sonoran chutney, cactus jelly, Nepalese spice rub, and organic apple butter all made with Iskashitaa love!

Email your recipe to Roy Debise at today!
Contest ends April 15. The winner will be announced on May 1st.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Be Our Lucky Leprechaun!

Your donation supports innovative programs that improve the lives of our refugee friends.
With your donation, you can sponsor a swimming student for a season, pay the salary of an AmeriCorps staff member, or cover Iskashitaa's gas for the month!

Now it's even easier to contribute! Just click here!

All donations are tax deductatble.

For more information, contact Natalie.

Thank you for your continued support!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Enjoy Free Shopping! by Fabienne Dupont, volunteer

Connect our friends to yet another cost saving resource.

If you want FREE fashionable clothes for men, women, and children try Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store's "VOUCHER ROOM". You will find a large, clean room with big dressing rooms and friendly volunteers. You are allowed to take 3 outfits- meaning 3 tops, 3 bottoms and 1 pair of shoes per week (that means 12 new outfits a month!). You can take 4 outfits a week for children, and 6 outfits for infants. They have tons of baby clothes. Whomever the clothes are for must be physically present, so bring the kids you want to outfit. We visited with Shukurani and his family. Even Bahati, a fashionable teenager, was pleased and the younger children got to dig happily in a large box full of free stuffed animals. And to get all this you simply have to write your name on a little receipt, filled out by the clerk, and sign it. Hours and location: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 18th street and South 6th Avenue. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Volunteer of the Month

Sue Troutman

Sue Troutman came to us from St Francis in the Foothills. The best way to describe her is as a Jackie-of-all-trades with a compassionate heart that keeps on giving. The first gift she shared with Iskashitaa was her skillful photography, which we gratefully utilize on our website, on Facebook, and in our newsletter (many of the photos in this newsletter were taken by Sue). Her photographs of baskets, yarn, and homemade clothing help refugees sell their wares. Her camera skills are only the beginning; she also harvests and redistributes fresh fruits and veggies to apartment complexes. She mentors, she lends her compassionate ear, and she practices English with her friends and acquaintances as they learn to navigate the city. She connects people to Iskashitaa resources and skills. She helps us ease our overflowing storage units (organizing helpers wanted). Sometimes it's Sue's simplest acts that make a difference when our staff needs a helping hand after an exhausting day of work at Iskashitaa. She continues to share in refugee lives by taking time to share a cup of tea; she is committed. She finds hope in hopelessness. She finds joy in helping others and being of service. She has offered her caring, her time, her contributions, and yet comes away profoundly changed with a better outlook on life. Thank you Sue!

Find out how volunteering gives back to you!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Materials for ESL Classes DO Make a Difference by Kellan Smith, HCET Intern


I am really happy about the materials that we have this semester, especially the various whiteboards. I think this will make instruction much more streamlined and preparation less time consuming for us. I also think this could make the lessons more effective. I feel like I will be focusing on whether the lesson will work for the students, and not on how to make the materials, or if I can make materials at all. Because many of the students are older, they have a hard time seeing. In the past, if I wrote something that everyone needed to see, it would be on a piece of paper. This was very difficult for many of our students to see, and made it hard to proceed with the lesson. The opportunity to write parts of the lesson on a larger surface might make it easier for our students to understand and participate in what is going on in the lesson.

We are always looking for donations for our classes including white boards, white board markers, pencils, notebooks, reading materials, crayons and gently used books. Please contact Kathy Zaleski if you have any materials.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Swimming Update by Taylor Corcoran, HCET Intern

swimSince the beginning of January, Iskashitaa has been pleased to offer swimming lessons for refugees of all ages and abilities. The lessons, held every Saturday morning at the Northwest YMCA pool, focus on teaching safe swimming practices and helping students become more comfortable in the water. Beth McMahon, the program director, has played a critical role in the overwhelming success of the lessons. "The classes have been amazing! The students, teachers, and volunteers are all having a wonderful time and no one wants to get out when class is over. I have found it fascinating how quickly fear can become excitement and enthusiasm."

Bria Dolnick, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, is involved in the production of a radio story about the lessons for Arizona Spotlight's New American series. When questioned about her experience with Iskashitaa, Bria commented that, "pool safety is a serious issue that people may not think about in relation to refugees. Iskashitaa is doing a great job in identifying and filling this real need in the refugee community."

As a driver and swim helper, I agree with Beth and Bria's thoughts on the classes. Swimming is a skill that I think a lot of Americans take for granted, because most of us learned it at such a young age. However, the first time I assisted with the swimming lessons I realized that explaining how to move one's arms and legs in a way that will keep them afloat is quite a challenge! It has been extremely rewarding to watch the students' abilities evolve and grow with time.

Iskashitaa would not have been able to develop the program without a generous donation from First United Methodist Church of Tucson. Thank you for your support!


Two refugees share their experiences:

"I am not perfect at swimming. I am still learning. Before I feel nervous and now I feel confident when I get inside the water. Iskashitaa and YMCA are teaching swimming but I don't have swimming class otherwise. I love to swim. It is really fun and make our body active. Thanks for give chance to swimming. I really appreciate you and swimming class."

"To play swimming is so fun and we learn to swim more and more and we are better now to swim. First I didn't know how to swim, but now I know how to swim and thanks to give a chance to us to learn. I really enjoy and big thanks to all helpers."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Upcoming Events with Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Upcoming Events

Refugee 101 Information Night: Thursday, March 8th (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)
Come learn more about refugee life, communicating in different languages, and refugee work. Anyone who wants information can attend and attendance does not commit you to serve. The training is at St. Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Rd. Please RSVP to

Winter Harvests: Each Week Thursdays and Fridays or when you have time
Please contact Mike Parelskin (925-330-8775), our new harvesting coordinator, if you are interested in harvesting grapefruit, calamondin limes, and other citrus. Check our Facebook page and our website for more details, or email for more information.

Food preservation workshops with refugees and Iskashitaa: 2nd Thursday and last Friday of the month
Citrus juice, organic chutney, local marmalades, Nepalese pickled veggies, & more!
Learn about new foods, techniques, and cross cultural traditions. Come for an hour come for half the day! If you are interested in volunteering please email and visit the website for more information:

St. Francis in the Foothills Crafts' Market: 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month (8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.)
Every second and fourth Sunday, our refugee made products are for sale at St. Francis in the Foothills, 4625 E. River Road. Come, browse, and buy our refugee-made crafts and local preserves! Recycled materials sewn, crocheted, and woven into great new rugs, bags, jewelry, baskets, and clothes.

Sewing and Craft Supply Redistribution Day: Friday, April 6 (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.)
Moved to the Oasis Learning Center, 306 E. Navajo #1106
The generous donations of volunteers and friends of Iskashitaa have led to a VERY full storage shed and we want to get those donations back out to our refugee friends! As usual, we cannot do this without your help! Please RSVP online or send an email to Emily at We need volunteers to set up, help redistribute the supplies, and clean up.

Green Fest 2012 : Saturday, April 7th (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)
Come Join Iskashitaa Refugee Network for this FREE family event with music, food and activities for the whole family! Learn how to lead a greener, more sustainable life and get the tools you need to start making changes today! Location: Tucson Village Farm, 4210 N. Campbell Ave. Want to volunteer at this event? Contact Lizbeth Gonzalez at
Jefferson Park Neighborhood Tour: Sunday, April 15 (12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
Jefferson Park is having its 3rd annual home tour on April 15 (Sunday)noon to 5. The playground of the Tucson International School, newly located in our neighborhood, will be the initial site. The tour theme is sustainability. Different organizations and Iskashitaa will set up information tables.

Iskashitaa Refugee Network Fundraiser: Friday, April 20
Come enjoy a delicious dinner with Iskashitaa Refugee Network to support our programming at St. Francis in the Foothills- 4625 E. River Rd. Interested in attending? Contact Natalie Brown at
*More Information to come!

18th Annual Tucson Earth Day: Saturday, April 21st (9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.)
The event at REID Park features environmentally themed exhibits, music, performances, and food vendors. Admission is free, and all exhibits include hands-on environmental activities for young and old alike. Additional showcases are a solar competition, alternate fuel vehicle show, free admission to the zoo by showing your bike helmet! Iskashitaa will have an information table. Interested in volunteering at this event? Contact Lizbeth Gonzalez at

Earth Walk 2012: Saturday, April 21st
Iskashitaa will be featured in this event! Earth Walk is an event that gives a global platform uniting humanity by igniting peoples' individual passions and connecting us to mutually beneficial relationships in order to transform the world. Want to help in this event? Contact Lizbeth Gonzalez at
*More Information to come!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Harvesting Update & Recipe by Mike Parelskin, Harvesting Coordinator


We are trying to get as many tangerines, tangelos, oranges, and kumquats as we can before they phase out.

HarvestAfter that we will be harvesting predominantly grapefruit as it stays good on the tree much longer than other citrus as it's protected by its thick rind. Extra-thick skinned grapefruit is a sign of an environmental response. It can be brought on by cold weather (i.e. last year's freeze), high nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium, or if it is an overly prolific tree it will commonly produce great fruit with a thick rind. Anyhow, keep your eyes out for citrus trees and let us know when you find one!

Recently we made a batch of Sonoran Marmalade from our locally-harvested oranges and kumquats. The recipe has just the right amount of spice to earn its Sonoran identity, and is amazing on toast, baked chicken, and especially pork tenderloin! To create the same finished product in a small batch you will need:

8 oranges

2 handfuls kumquats

2 cups sugar

Pectin (follow packet instructions, I would use 1.5x required amount)

Canning equipment

1. Zest one orange.

2. Peel all oranges, and slice. Add to medium sized pot.

3. Slice kumquats, add to pot.

4. Cover fruit with water and bring to boil.

5. Stir in sugar and pectin.

6. Reduce for 1 hour.


Water bath for 20 minutes in sterilized jars using proper canning methods.

For more about canning and preserving, come cook with us the second Thursday and last Friday of each month! To inquire contact Mike at

Monday, March 5, 2012

Deserving Staff Member Honored for Her Hard Work in Many Social Justice Platforms


Last month, Natalie Brown received the Church Women United in Arizona 2012 Human Rights Award.

Natalie Brown's human rights work extends into many arenas. Serving as the Resource Coordinator, Natalie's current position with Iskashitaa is a placement as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), which is the domestic branch of the Peace Corps designed to increase the capacity of non-profits.

Ms. Brown has a deep passion for public health and works to improve access to health education and healthcare for all. She has taught about HIV/AIDS in schools, churches, mosques, and civic clubs in Arizona, Sonora, and most notably in villages surrounding Arusha, Tanzania through her work with Support for International Change. She currently serves as the AIDS Task Force Chairperson for the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. She has also done contract work with the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society on projects related to AIDS education and family planning. She presented a workshop entitled "Models of U.S. AIDS Ministries" at the Lighten the Burden International AIDS Conference in 2010.

Natalie has been a long term volunteer with Clinica Amistad, a healthcare clinic in South Tucson that offers free medical care to the uninsured. She currently serves as Clinic Coordinator as well as a member of the Board of Directors.

Ms. Brown grew up on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona and understands the injustices that indigenous people still face. She is a founding board member of Whisper n Thunder, a non-profit whose aim is to empower Native Americans through education, awareness, and opportunity.

Natalie has also worked with the Reconciling Ministries Teams of First United Methodist and St. Francis United Methodist Churches to advocate for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals.

We congratulate Natalie for her advocacy and continued perseverance in protecting human rights in Tucson and abroad. Iskashitaa is honored to have her working with us.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

HCET 3-4

For our community hours this week Annie and I visited the ESL class at Oasis apartments. We came prepared with flyers and pens, ready to take numbers of refugees who wanted to harvest on Fridays with us. When we arrived in the community room three refugee children immediately surrounded us, asking our names, shaking our hands, showing us the homework they were working on. Their names were Nima, Yosef, and Ruta and they ranged in age from about 6 to 9. They ended up being our guides through the apartments at Oasis, knocking on the doors of their numerous neighbors and translating for Annie and I. These three were full of energy and so excited to meet new people; I think they thought of us as big playmates. Once we had finished knocking on the doors we spent a few more minutes with the kids. They asked us if we went to college and told us about their elementary school. After we left all I could think of was how bright and happy the kids were. Although their parents may have struggled in coming to the United States, these three children were safe, well taken care of, and able to go to school. Seeing their excited little faces made my week, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to go back and visit them again.


Link to books about Refugee Experiences

Want to read more books about refugee experiences or share them with your children, friends or in your classroom? Check out Dr. Kathy Short's website and the list she created of the many books about refugee experiences.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Refugee Sandwich

Refugee Sandwich is a compilation of short stories written by refugees and members of the Refugee Hearing Board in Canada. Although I have only read a few of the accounts, the book has already touched on a variety of thought-provoking topics. Before the selection of stories begins, the author asks the reader to engage in two quick exercises. The first is to imagine that you are in the position of having to defend yourself to a board of lawyers and judges who will decide whether or not you qualify for refugee status. The second is to imagine that you are a member of this board and you are expected to determine the claimant’s future based on a brief hearing. I thought that these role-playing exercises were extremely useful and provided a great deal of insight into how each party must be feeling as the hearing begins. The author brought up a few things I had never thought to consider: how can Boards rule out the possibility that the claimant is lying? How difficult must it be for individuals who are unfamiliar with our legal system to testify for their lives? How can the government ensure that the people serving on these boards will provide the claimant with a fair trial?

-HCET Intern, Taylor Corcoran

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Methods of Teaching ESL

This week went well; I always enjoy these more interactive lessons. Dahl was particularly good at our activities involving getting the correct amount of change, adding and subtracting change, and even putting coins back in order to get more/less. I wonder if his ability to manipulate coins is related to his amazing English skills? It’s something I’ve noticed, that those who have the best English most readily understand the association of different values with the coins. I think many of our students, like Dahl’s wife Ful, understand the math problems we’re posing to them; it might just be difficult to associate a certain value with a certain coin. It’s a lot like their trouble with reading, difficulty of associating a phoneme (or in the case of English, a wide array of phonemic units) to a letter.

I’ve been thinking lately about how a person learns a second language, or how I learn a second language. When I’m reading French, or listening to someone speak it, I pick out the words I know, translate those words into English, and then cognitively understand what was read/said. Even though this happens in the fraction of a second, there is still a flow of translation. I can’t take the French word and directly associate it with the real-world referent; I have to have the English word for an intermediary. At some point, I’m hoping, I won’t need the intermediary anymore. But, does this help with initially learning a foreign language? If it does, is this possibly one reason why it is so difficult for our students to learn English? We don’t provide a Nepali translation of the English words we teach them, we try to directly link the English word with the thing it refers to (sometimes we do ask for the Nepali word though). Does this in fact make the process harder than normal?

-Kelsey Rivers, HCET Intern