Language Learners

“It is so incredible to see what this family has already overcome, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to help them.”

- Kate Norry

Background Information

Having moved several times during her childhood, Kate Norry knows what it’s like to be in a new environment. When her community got involved in welcoming Afghan Refugees, after the August 2021 departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Kate’s curiosity transformed into action. After her Alzar semester, Kate engaged with a family of seven, helping the five children assimilate into American culture and learn English. Kate is also the daughter of two teachers, and felt she could use some of the skills her parents passed down to her in a productive way.

Implementation of Project

In advance of working with the Sayedi family, who Kate became good friends with, she met with action team members Norm and Sonna Loewenthal. Norm and Sonna have been ESL (English as a Second Language) instructors for ten years, and served in the Peace Corps in Iran. They provided instructional support and allowed me to shadow them teaching English. Once Kate began her own lessons with the Sayedi’s, she leaned on her action team for support. Kate used the techniques she learned while also implementing her own methods such as flashcards, games, and skits. While it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, due to the complexity of the English language, Kate is able to see the kid’s improving.

“I could have never done any of this without learning from my action team first, and I am so thankful for their support.” – Kate Norry

Results of Project

Kate has met with the Sayedi family approximately ten times for one hour lessons. After these sessions, Kate often hangs out with the kids and goes on walks, or plays backyard games with them, letting the kids use their English in action! The kids have progressed immensely in terms of eagerness to learn and organization, as they are ready to go when she arrived. Kate has recently been working on irregular past tense verbs with them, and they are beginning to implement them in their daily language.

“When I first met them two years ago, we couldn’t get past ‘Hi.’ Now, they have come so far and we are able to have full conversations while we hang out. It’s been so beautiful to watch them improve.” – Kate Norry

What’s Next

Kate plans on continuing her relationship with the Sayedi family and working with them as she is able. Kate has also taken on additional leadership roles and will lead a team in setting up a new home for an incoming Ukrainian family. Kate has found the work of resettling refugees to be fulfilling. Being an ambassador to newcomers has given Kate a keen sense of the challenges refugees face. She hopes to continue learning about refugees in the world and finding ways to stay involved throughout the rest of her education.

“This project has meant so much to me, and I can’t wait to see all the awesome things these kids will do in the future.” – Kate Norry