The English Language Learning (ELL) classroom is the perfect place to personally connect with local internationals by teaching English, building relationships, instilling confidence and independence, and ultimately pointing them to Jesus. Two Knox County ELL programs have facilitated incredible friendships, impacting lives on a deeper level along the way. They began with different target groups, but have the same beautiful story of network collaboration!
by Bobbie McClain
West Hills ELL started their program in West Hills Elementary School Cafeteria after Northstar Church asked KIN to help them carry out their faith journey in fall 2022. KIN provided a teacher and encourager (teacher assistant), while Northstar volunteers formed program teams and worked with school staff to share about the class with parents of ELL students. God also brought a new couple to Knoxville, and to Northstar, at just the right time, as they were seeking a church where they could carry out their calling to teach ELL.
Kevin and Lynne Quinn taught upper-level students the first year and are now the program co-directors. Kevin says, “If you can speak in English, you can help an international student navigate their new environment!” Lynne states, “Our lessons lead to conversations that help students talk about their experiences here and in their home country.” Last year, West Hills ELL had students representing 10 countries and 7 languages!
They all began doing things together outside class, and with their families, such as attending Northstar’s “Family Day at the Farm” in Lenoir City. The class bonded that night as they scaled ropes, wandered through corn mazes, rode potato sack slides, and went on hayrides. Another memorable event was the multicultural Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day. All who attended stated it was the first time they had been invited to a traditional Thanksgiving meal and they were honored and excited to receive such an invitation.
Building trust is often difficult for some as they come to this new country, so the ELL classroom provides a safe place to encourage taking those steps. After one Afghan student’s house was hit by three downed trees during a recent storm, she and her husband hired someone to remove the trees, paying a 50% down payment - only to never hear from them again.
Read the stories of Knoxville's local internationals and the volunteers who have impacted their lives. Get a first-hand view of what it's like to move here and/or to serve those who've moved here from other countries. Discover how KIN has impacted life and culture in metro Knoxville.