Students at the English Learning Center are often eager to share their gratitude for all that the school does for them. But we are just as fortunate for the many gifts and talents that students share with us. Students like Fatuma.
Despite facing many difficult life events, including fleeing her home at age 5 when civil war came to Somalia, Fatuma does not see herself as someone who has overcome any challenges. She focuses instead on how grateful and lucky she feels and does her best to help others. She explains, “I have freedom, safety, health, a job, and my two children.” She recognizes that many others in her community struggle a lot and feels fortunate for the opportunities and life she has today.
One of the first things Fatuma did when she settled in Minneapolis was seek out a place to learn English. She found the ELC when a local housing and employment organization referred to us as the “greatest and nearest school.”
Fatuma enrolled in classes in March, 2014. Thanks to early schooling in Somalia and a couple years learning English in other parts of the US, she was placed in an intermediate level class. One year later, she now attends our most advanced English class, as well as math and citizenship preparation. She says,
“[It’s] wonderful learning here. The teachers are the best, and they volunteer–they don’t get money. They give more attention and explain so I understand. They care. They ask me questions to help me.”
One of Fatuma’s proudest moments occurred earlier this semester. Her teacher saw the class struggling with a new curriculum and set aside time for students to talk. They shared their opinions on the lessons and suggested improvements. The teacher listened, took notes, and reported back to staff. Over the next month, Fatuma was thrilled to see teachers implementing some of their ideas. She feels like their voices were heard and that they not only contributed to their own education but also to the entire school.
When she’s not in class or with her family, Fatuma works part-time at a day care with children ages 6-12. After more than a year, she still enjoys playing with the kids. Eventually, she hopes to get her G.E.D. and attend university to become a nursing assistant or teacher.
To anyone reading this who supports the ELC, the last thing Fatuma wanted to make sure to say is thank you. And, also, to make a request:
“If you are able, please continue to help the students of the ELC. The school needs more new chairs, computers, books, pencils, gas for the van. Without these things, nobody can come here. Help us. We need those things.”