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Tiffanys Social Justice Questions

1. What were your reasons for wanting to work with refugees?

I am grateful that I have many opportunities to self-direct my life where many people do
not have a lot of opportunities available to them. I live a privileged life compared to the strife
and suffering that a great number of people experience in this world. I feel that it is an honor to
teach English to help recent immigrant and refugee adults who have needs that are greater
than my own. I feel rewarded by helping their process of making better lives for themselves and
their families in a new country, new society, and a new language.

2. What were the demographics of the refugees you worked with?

Most of the adults I work with are recent immigrants from Africa, Middle East, Asia,
Mexico, Latin America, Europe, and former Soviet states. For most of them, the #1 reason they
want to improve their English is for job seeking or job improvement. Most have been in the US
less than 3 years. Most live with family members.
The refugees I have encountered in these classes have been from northeast Africa,
specifically Sudan, Darfur, Ethiopia, Somalia. They often have no family members in the local
Seattle area, or perhaps in the US. I am not familiar with the process they go through to receive
refugee assistance. For a short period of time (90-120 days?) they receive subsidy for a place to
live, basic health care, and food assistance. Their language-learning priority is for survival
English for navigating through American systems of transportation, shopping, etc. Their need
for learning English for job seeking purposes is less immediate, but will become a priority in
their near future.

2. What was your role in the ESL classroom?

As a teaching assistant, I;
assist students individually or in small groups to help them master assignments and
to reinforce learning concepts presented by the instructor
observe students' performance and provide assistance as needed
present subject matter to students under the direction and guidance of the
aid in the presentation of lesson objectives
prepare, duplicate, and distribute teaching materials
correct, assess and grade papers
speak and write in clear understandable English

3. What was biggest challenge with working with refugee students?

For the instructor, it can feel that students progress in English is slow at this level, and
the life challenges they face take a lot of their attention away from advancing more quickly.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges/injustices for refugees regarding education?

Their biggest challenges regarding education seem to be the impact of their living
situation and financial needs for managing their lives. These uncertainties are highly emotional
factors that affect the amount of time that students can regularly make available for studying.
For example, the cost of receiving education is very little. At HCC, precollege ESL courses
are free for those who seek them out and state they have financial need. At lower proficiency
levels, textbooks are not required. Copied handouts, worksheets, and other materials are
provided daily at no cost to the students. Library and computer lab are free. During the refugee
assistance period, there are bus passes available to cover travel costs.

5. In your opinion is it even possible to get the funding necessary for the programs needed to
properly educate and assist the refugee population? This can include adults and children.

I do not have sufficient knowledge of the funding difficulties for refugee assistance to
answer this question.

6. Do you know ratio's of ELL instructors to refugees? Are there a sufficient number of
instructors to assist with these needs in your opinion?

I do not have sufficient knowledge of the ratio of ELL instructors to refugees to answer
this question.

7. How do you think the education system can be bettered to appropriately assist the refugee
population when funding and class size issues already exist?

Funding and class size are the greatest issues that impact the on-campus experience.
We could support more programs that focus on how we motivate students to extend their
learning experiences outside of the classroom.

8. Are there any additional comments or input you would li ke to add?

No other comments.