Removing language barriers,
building leaders, and
cultivating community.

Removing language barriers,
building leaders, and
cultivating community.

We serve refugees in Amarillo and the surrounding regions of the Texas Panhandle by studying their languages and cultures, connecting their communities with local institutions, and fostering relationships between refugees and local residents.

The Refugee Language Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Amarillo, Texas. Launched in May 2017, it is directed by Dr. Ryan Pennington, a linguist with a decade of international non-profit experience. It is funded primarily by donations.

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Naw Paw grew up in a peaceful farming village near a river in Myanmar, where her family grew rice and other seasonal foods. She has happy memories of days spent catching frogs and fish in the river for her daily meals. Like many children, she started school eagerly. Unfortunately, her education stopped abruptly in third grade when fighting broke out between the Burmese and Karen armies.

If you didn't catch this story in our latest e-newsletter, be sure to read the article by clicking the link in our bio. We think you'll agree that Naw Paw shines bright like a star.
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Doing something new can be scary and intimidating. It's much easier with a friend or coach to be there with you. If you want to take those first steps, consider signing up for a Bridge Dinner or Face-to-Face mentorship. We promise we'll be there with you to help you get going! ...

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Well we tried to post this yesterday but couldn't get it to you because of IG being down. If you didn't catch our latest e-newsletter in your inbox, you can click on the link in our bio to read a snippet from Naw Peh's contribution to our storybook project and hear about the first Bridge Dinner. For those of you who aren't on our email list, hop on the website and sign up under the Resources tab by clicking on "Newsletters". ...

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Thin worked very hard to study for her citizenship interview in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. She passed and recently returned for the ceremony, pictured here. Congratulations on all of your hard work and courage, Thin! ...

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I recently interviewed Grace, a new mentor in our Face to Face program. After an initial 1-on-1 training with Jennifer, our mentorship coordinator, Grace was ready! She was paired with Lay and Ler, twin sisters from the Karen ethnic group of Myanmar. Grace was excited when she learned that she would be meeting with women who were her exact same age, and was even more elated to discover that these two sisters interacted together and cared for each other much like her and her own sisters!

Grace, Lay and Ler meet weekly to practice English, and have enjoyed spending time together at this year’s Panhandle Refugee Celebration and Karen Martyr’s Day. Like many people in Amarillo, Grace has had some interactions with people of various cultures through work, but this was her first time to connect in a friendship across cultural boundaries. Her biggest takeaway so far in this adventure? “It’s given me perspective and brought me a lot of joy!”

Maybe you have been considering signing up to be a mentor in a one-on-one relationship, but are scared to take the plunge. I asked Grace what advice she has for you. “Don’t be afraid to try something a little outside of your comfort zone. When you’re in the middle of the situation, what seemed scary before might just end up being exciting and interesting instead! Those cultural barriers that are there don’t seem so big anymore.”

Are you interested in connecting more deeply across cultures? We would love to pair you up with a refugee in our city who wants the same thing. We'll be with you every step of the way! Call us at the office or email Jennifer, our mentorship coordinator to learn more.
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This Saturday we'll be out in the Eastridge neighborhood participating in National Clean Up Day. Many refugee communities live and work there, so we're excited to spend the morning helping them to develop pride in their neighborhood! Come on out to join us! Maybe you'll get the chance to strike up a conversation with someone in the neighborhood and invite them to coffee or to our literacy class. Information is provided on the flyer below. ...

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Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has someone to listen. We practiced listening to some of these stories at our RLP info night. Serges (Burundi) and Seng (Kachin, Myanmar) shared all about their own experiences moving to the USA, learning English, and getting jobs here. Serges told us about his relationship with his father, sharing advice he’d given Serges over and over again about how to treat those older than him. Seng recalled a memory of when protests in her hometown caused school to close for the day. Though she didn’t understand it then as a young child, that would be her last opportunity to attend school as a child.
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Want to read more about the stories we've been hearing lately? Read our latest e-newsletter. Link in bio.
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Ties that Bind Us: Sisters and Stories // Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has someone to listen. Did you catch all the interviews we did this month? Check out our September newsletter to find links to the interviews we shared on Zoom last week and to hear about our plans for Bridge Dinners this Fall. Link in bio. ...

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Join us tonight at 6 PM at Crossroads Church (1924 S. Polk) for a chance to learn about what RLP is up to in this season and how you can be a part. We're especially excited about our new storybook project and will be sharing more details on that tonight. We're also bringing back the popular panel discussion with 3 former refugees in Amarillo. Listening is a key pillar of what we do at RLP, so don't miss out on a chance to listen to the voices of our neighbors. Childcare will not be provided but children are welcome and will have some coloring pages to do if they come. Masks are encouraged and tables will be spread out so that you can remain as socially distanced as you are comfortable with. See you tonight! ...

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You are invited to join the Karen Community of Amarillo on Saturday, August 14th for the Karen Traditional Wrist Tying Ceremony. Events will be going on all day and night (8 AM until midnight!) at 1001 N Eastern St. There will be food, sports competitions, traditional dances, and debates. RLP will have a tent up after lunch with face painting for kids, so come by and say hello! Events will also be happening on Sunday to honor the 71st anniversary of Karen National Martyr's Day. Don't miss a fantastic chance to enjoy this important cultural celebration in our city! ...

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An ancient ceremony will be conducted on August 14 right here in Amarillo. Here's a chance to immerse yourself in culture! You're invited to a traditional Wrist Tying Ceremony with the Karen! And if you're a face painter, we'd love your help! DM us with comments or questions! ...

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August 2021: The Stories of Amarillo's Refugees // A project to record the stories of Amarillo's refugees! This is a local project with truly global impact. Get involved September 2 as Table Talk resumes. Read more in this month's newsletter! [Link in bio] ...

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Everyone has a story to tell. Lual knows this and has been collecting stories from Dinka speakers without knowing what he was going to do with them until we met with him and his wife Diana last week. We are excited to partner with Lual, Diana and a number of other refugees in Amarillo on our heritage language storybook project. We were recently awarded a large grant through the Amarillo Area Foundation to record and translate stories from various refugee communities, producing storybooks to help preserve their cultures & histories while also promoting vital early literacy habits through printed books.

We will use Table Talk this Fall to facilitate a time for sharing these stories and providing feedback before publishing. Join us at the table on Thursday evenings, starting September 2nd, at Crossroads Church to listen and learn from a different community each week. You'll get the chance to hear a wide range of stories, experience the rich and varied cultures in our city and enjoy food from around the world while partnering with these communities in the editing process.

If you're looking for an opportunity to get involved, but aren't ready for a one-on-one mentorship, Table Talk is the perfect entry point to meeting some of your neighbors. Everyone is invited to join us as we listen each week, and we are looking for volunteers to help with childcare on those Thursday evenings as well. We'd love for you to listen one week and serve the next! Please contact mandi@refugeelanguage.org if you would like to help!

Be sure to join our email newsletter list to get all the latest information on when Table Talk is happening. Link in bio.
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We are looking for a part-time childcare coordinator to help us watch children during our exciting programs!

Specifically, we are looking for someone who can run a small childcare program during our women’s literacy class at an apartment complex on Tuesday/Thursday mornings, as well as at our Table Talk events on Thursday evenings beginning in September.

This person will need to be present at our programs, plan the activities, prepare materials, and supervise volunteer childcare teams when needed.

Hours: 5–10 total/week
Literacy Class: 10:30–12:30 on Tuesday & Thursday mornings (begin now)
Table Talk: 5:30–8:30 Thursday evenings (begin September)
Plus flexible prep time

Call or email us if you're interested!
(806) 553-5160
contact@refugeelanguage.org
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Have you seen our announcements about The PLACE? We are collaborating with two other local organizations (We Find in Love and Square Mile) to develop the multi-cultural community center we've been dreaming about! It stands for The Place for Language, Art, Culture, and Economic Growth. Would you like to hear more about this new big thing?

Tomorrow, July 14, we'll be sharing more about the vision at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church's summer fundraiser. We'll share at 5:30 PM, followed by food trucks and music in the courtyard. Come hang out and hear more!
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We're grateful this sweet girl lives in our city. ...

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