Thursday, December 20, 2012

So Proud of Our Angie!

Check out this great video on Angie Harris, the brains behind ESL to Go, and her motivation for starting the program.

Lyle Jackson created this beautiful video for Vanderbilt's Peabody College, where Angie earned her master's degree. He hopes this will get her a spot on the Ellen show! What do you think?

Monday, December 10, 2012

We Ordered the Truck Party

Since our last post in August (has it really been that long?), the ESL to Go team received the entire amount of money needed to purchase our dream mobile classroom!

Thanks to many individual donors combined with three incredibly generous grants from local foundations, our concept will hit the road as a reality in April, 2013.

Last Thursday, friends, community partners, ESL to Go supporters, and beer lovers all came together at Fat Bottom Brewing  for our "we ordered the truck party". The beer masters of Fat Bottom generously donated $1 from each drink poured to ESL to Go. Thanks to the great turnout, over 275 beers were sold.

Beyond chatting over beverages, the ESL to Go team hosted a Refugee Trivia Quiz. Thirteen teams of four participated. The winning team not only took home bragging rights, but they also snatched up gift certificates generously donated by some of Nashville's most delicious restaurants.

Teams represented various local nonprofits and educational institutions across the city. Catholic Charities Refugee Services swept the winnings, with their two teams coming in both first and second place.

ESL to Go staff with Refugee Trivia Quiz Team Captains
Members of the winning team, "Team Awesome", during the quiz
Our crowd anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winning team

We were so humbled and grateful to see so many wonderful people who serve to the refugee and immigrant community in Nashville come together in support of ESL to Go. We're truly privileged to be part of this community.

Monday, August 6, 2012

ESL to Go is, well, going...

Since receiving funding for operating expenses in April 2012, the ESL to Go team and student body has grown so much. We are now operating classes out of three unique sites in Madison, TN and South Nashville, serving refugees from Burma, Somalia, Iraq, and Kurdistan. Our team consists of five dedicated teachers and three staff members who passionately work to make ESL classes available to the most vulnerable refugees.
Furthermore, we are so close to raising the money needed to purchase Tennessee's first Mobile ESL Classroom.
We are so thankful to the community for your continued support, encouragement, and inspiration.

Here are some snapshots of what we've been up to. Enjoy.

ESL to Go students from Somalia with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Gatluck Thach

Burmese women set up their new classroom held in a community leader's apartment

Many of these women are Kachin refugees from Burma. There are only 12 Kachin refugees resettled in Nashville.

Leah Hashinger, ESL to Go Program Manager, and Angie Harris, ESL to Go Director, pose with WPLN reporter, Blake Farmer. Farmer did a piece on ESL to Go for Nashville Public Radio.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Teacher, New Students, and New Beginnings

New students from Burma, Somalia, Kurdistan, and Iraq are all beginning to fill the seats of ESL to Go's first classes, held at an apartment complex in Madison, TN.

The instructor and ESL to Go's newest team member, Ashley Ekers, is designing an ESL curriculum for the three distinct levels of our student body.

Ashley with a Level 2 student from Somalia

The aim of ESL to Go is to meet the individual needs of the students, and to build the class schedule and curriculum around those needs.

A beautiful family from Iraq. Both parents are enrolled in separate classes reflecting their varying English levels

This family from Burma attends Level 1a, or Literacy Level, classes together

It's fascinating for us to watch our new students adjust to their lives in Nashville. We are thankful for the opportunity to be able to give them the communication tools that are so necessary in making the transition to the U.S. successful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

On Saturday, the ESL to Go team met at Edmondson Manor Apartment complex--a site where we're hoping to bring the mobile classroom. News Channel 4 had contacted us about wanting to run a story on our concept, ultimately hoping to bring awareness to our cause.

News Channel 4 wanted to show their viewers the type of students who would benefit from our program, so we decided to go into the home of Ching Nuam, an elderly Burmese woman who opens her apartment to a weekly English class led by a volunteer teacher. Our excited group of Burmese mothers, along with their children, were camera ready.

Ching Nuam, far right, second row, sits with her granddaughters and fellow classmate.

Ashley Ekers, ESL to Go's Curriculum Coordinator, led an impromptu class for the camera.

We love how the piece turned out and are hoping that it will bring attention to our fundraising campaign.
Watch it here. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We're (almost) Rolling

I always tell myself, in order get something done you have to begin by doing it.

Help us do it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our Video

We're thrilled to present our ESL to Go promotional video. We'll use this video to spread the word about our project and include it in our proposal to sponsors.

We're incredibly thankful to everyone who made this video possible, especially Percy, our director/editor/camera guy, who graciously volunteered his talents and time to this project. 

So, without further adieu, WATCH IT. 

Oh, and don't forget to check out the bloopers at the end. We think they're funny. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nashville Mobile Market's One Year Anniversary

Today, on an unseasonably warm Superbowl Sunday, a crowd gathered outside of the Edgehill Apartments to celebrate the Nashville Mobile Market's first year of service. Over a year ago, a group of Vanderbilt students saw the need to eliminate food deserts in Nashville and began dialogues with community leaders whose neighborhoods would benefit from their initiative. With the generous support of the Frist Foundation, the idea became a reality. Now, a year later, the Mobile Market visits food desserts throughout the city bringing fresh produce and healthy options to individuals who otherwise do not have convenient access to such goods.

Ladies from the Vanderbilt Coalition for Healthy Aging and 
Tennessee Foreign Language Institute showing their Support for the Mobile Market 

The success of the Mobile Market, and the support we have received from its founder, is one of the reasons why we believe in the success of a mobile ESL classroom.

Way to go Mobile Market team and the volunteers who put in 15,000 hours this past year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Best Advice

On January 19th, a scattering of Nashville's most influential individuals from resettlement centers, the public school system, and community organizations who provide services to refugees, joined ESL to Go for our first advisory committee meeting.

The enthusiasm from everyone present and the expressed desire and NEED for this initiative bred creative and thoughtful ideas.

Here are some of our favorites:
-Open resume writing workshops
-Getting the word out via Metro Nashville Public Schools radio announcements and school board meetings
-Work in collaboration with companies that employ a large number of refugees to help both sides, the employers and refugees, better understand each other's needs

This project is truly a community effort. We are thankful for the strong and supportive individuals who empower this community.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Moving to Madison

Most refugees resettled in Nashville are placed in the southern part of the city, in apartment complexes along Nolensville Road--a long stretch known for its diversity of shops, cuisine, and residents. Although schools and hospitals in that area are used to dealing with the cultural and language barriers that come with working with diverse populations, they have capacity limits that are reaching a tipping point, and resettlement centers are realizing the need to place refugees in other neighborhoods so as to lessen the concentration of newcomers in South Nashville.

As the only adult English speaker in the household, he did the interpreting for us. He walks 30 minutes to and from English class every Saturday.

A copy of the ESL needs and barriers survey.
Madison, TN, just east of Nashville city limits, is becoming a new destination for refugees in Nashville. Although far from the convenience and community of Nolensville Road, refugee families in Madison can live affordably in a quiet and laid-back environment.

Due to the limited availability of ESL classes in Madison, ESL to Go has identified an apartment complex where many refugees have already been resettled as one of our chosen sites to bring our mobile classroom.

On Wednesday, we drove out to Madison to meet a newly resettled Somali family. They greeted us with warmth, hospitality and a readiness to share their life stories.

Many families similar to this one will continue to fill the vacant apartments at the complex where this family lives. We hope to greet them, as they greet us, with warmth, hospitality, and an abundance of knowledge to share.  
A 28-year-old mother of four, pictured with her youngest daughter,
who is unable to attend ESL classes due to a lack of transportation and childcare. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We want it!

This is a blog about two women, a supportive community, and many newcomers anxious to learn English, who are on a mission to bring ESL classes to refugees in Nashville. Please follow along on our journey as we gather the resources to fund this initiative, meet new and excited potential students, and begin to bring ESL classes to the doorsteps of individuals who are READY and EXCITED to learn the English language.