He walked into the large room with no expression on his face. After a full day of kindergarten in a new classroom, in a new school, in a new country, he had nothing left to give. If anything, there was a bit of fear in his eyes. Three other children—two first graders and a second grader—entered with him.
An American lady approached him. Was she another teacher? She told him something in English, but he didn’t understand even the first word.
Clapping and cheers erupted from the middle of the gym. Another assembly line had completed another box of mac-n-cheese packs. Another table wasn’t far behind. Their assembly line of ten people completed a box—192 individual packets—with high-fives and cheers. Then they immediately started another box. The boxes were stacking up against the opposite wall, coming from ten assembly lines, and it was only 10:30am. By the end of the day, there were 45,000 meals in more than 220 boxes.
Esther’s kids walked six blocks to and from school every day. It was less than a mile each way. As a child back in Africa, Esther and her siblings had walked much further without giving it a second thought. There were homes along the way, so Esther never imagined her kids were unsafe.
Remember the excitement of the first day of school? Remember how proudly you shouldered your new backpack and marched into school?
International children now have the same feeling after they visit the Knox County Schools Welcome Center, where new families enroll their children in school throughout the year. Every child receives a well-stocked backpack, readying them for that first day in their new schools.
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.