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.
With motions and a gentle touch, she helped him remove his backpack and choose a snack.
The three adults played some games with the four children, but one of the adults wasn’t like the others. She looked like people in his home country, and she spoke his language!
Later this special volunteer wrote, “It reminded me how hard it was to transition to an entirely new life when I first came here; everything around was so different. Just imagine you don't know anybody, don't have a clue what is going on around you.”
She tried to encourage him and the others. Eventually, all four children began to relax and say a few words to each other…and to the volunteer tutors. By the end of this one-hour tutoring session, that expressionless, frightened kindergartener was smiling. And maybe he learned a little English.
KIN exists to bless internationals in Knoxville, welcoming them as neighbors and embracing them as family. Through this pilot project, called “International Scholars,” we help some of our youngest newcomers learn to speak and read English so they can succeed. That same international volunteer said, “I know these kids will learn so fast and adapt to new life quickly, but any little help that could make their lives easier means a lot to them.” Maybe a few more can leave with a smile.
"Charlie," our kindergartner, not only knows his letter sounds, but he eagerly participates in activities and helps his classmates. He knows sight words, can read sentences and answer comprehension questions. He shows enthusiasm (yelling ‘yeah’ with fist pointing upward) when told we are going to play a game. He is reading now and a confident learner. He understands what his teacher says and can respond appropriately. He has learned quickly!
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.