Welcoming Our New Neighbors Through Language
By: RST Staff 8/24/2016
"Language is an important component of everyday life. It helps us connect with others and feel connected to the community we live in. I believe it is important for refugees to learn English in order to connect with the community and in this way become part of the community that they live in," says English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator, Virginia Villarreal.
Virginia has been the ESL Coordinator for the Refugee Services of Texas Dallas Service Center for more than a year now. She grew up with English as her second language and knows firsthand how language can shape one's life. Her passion to help refugees learn English derives from her belief that "empowerment comes through knowledge." In addition to coordinating ESL classes, Virginia actively seeks opportunities for refugees to continue their education after they complete the RST ESL program. She works closely within the community, especially with GED programs and Richland College, to find educational opportunities for RST clients so that they can "achieve the very best this country has to offer for them and their families."
Through her dedication to the ESL program, Virginia plays a vital role in welcoming refugees into Dallas. With four levels of English held three days a week, ESL classes not only help students learn valuable language skills but give them the opportunity to meet and connect with other refugees, volunteers, and English teachers, developing a sense of community along the way. It also enables refugee parents to "remain active in their childrens' lives" and educational pursuits. With a solid foundation of English language education, refugees are able to navigate their new lives in North Texas and feel more welcome in their new homes.
This North Texas Giving Day, you can show refugees that you welcome them to the North Texas neighborhood by sharing their story and helping support our essential services.
Visit our profile at https://northtexasgivingday.org/npo/refugee-services-of-texas to learn more about how you can help, and check out Virginia's favorite recipe for welcoming new neighbors!