from Shane's Muslim Connect
My friend, Ryan Pennington runs a very cool organization in Amarillo, Texas, called the Refugee Learning Project. They serve refugees by helping them learn English. They offer one-on-one training and mentorship for refugee leaders and foster relationships between refugee families and local residents.
Ryan recently shared the steps that led to a pivotal training event at a local elementary school and some of the good results. I was encouraged by this and think you will be too:
Let's recap the relational progression that led to yesterday’s Somali culture training at Mesa Verde Elementary School.
1. I walk into a mosque and meet Dr. Salad (suh LAHD).
2. I begin to meet weekly with Dr. Salad over the course of two years, learning the Somali language and culture and becoming deep friends in the process.
3. Dr. Salad introduces me to many others in the Somali community. I'm able to listen to their felt needs.
4. After listening, we offer conversation and literacy classes geared toward Somali people.
5. Becky, a retired school teacher, attends our program and becomes a literacy mentor for a Somali woman whose kids attend Mesa Verde Elementary School.
6. Becky's heart changes and she becomes a liaison to local schools so they can learn what she’s learned through her friendship.
7. Mesa Verde invites us to offer a culture training to their staff. Becky and Dr. Salad share their knowledge with the staff.
8. Several staff ask to get involved as mentors with Refugee Language Project so they can help their students' mothers learn to read and write. And now other schools have asked us to come train them!
Ryan summarizes, “Wow. Do you see what relationships can accomplish? Two key relationships opened the door to systemic change in our city.” I say if this can happen in Amarillo, it could probably happen in my town and yours!