We have mentioned our excitement about our storybook project. This semester we are training refugees to collect stories on digital recorders from people in their communities. The plan is to translate, edit and polish these stories to be published in bilingual storybooks! These communities can use them to promote early literacy in the home, preserve history and culture, and build stronger ties between generations who are feeling disconnected as children learn English and are immersed in a new culture. While we collect these stories, we’re also training Amarillo to listen.
We practiced listening to some of these stories at last Thursday’s 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 the advice he’d given Serges over and over again: “If you meet an older woman, she is your mother; an older man, he is your father.” 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. Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has someone to listen.
If you’ve met Serges, you know that he has a bright, contagious smile, and joyous laughter. But you probably wouldn’t know that in the 6 years he has been in the Amarillo he and his family have never, not once, been invited into a local home to share a meal and a story.
If you want to sit down with neighbors like these, build relationships, lend an ear, and welcome the strangers among us, we have the perfect opportunity this Fall.
In lieu of large Table Talk gatherings, we are planning a series of outdoor potluck Bridge Dinners at our house. We’ll invite a refugee family that we know, and then some of you as well, to come together over a meal and spend time listening to one another. If you are interested in getting your name on the list, email Mandi at the link below. Space is limited, as we are keeping these groups fairly small. Let us know today if you want in!