by Blythe Thompson
Growing up an American missionary kid in Ecuador, now residing in the US, Geri knows the challenges of feeling at home in a foreign land, which for her, is the US.
So, since moving to the US as an adult, Geri has always found a way to connect with internationals in her community, wanting to help them feel more at home. Additionally, volunteering had always been part of her retirement plan, to give back to the community, and help people find Christ or grow in their faith.
So, last year, as Geri began to find her way around Knoxville after her move from Virginia, she started to search for volunteer opportunities. She inquired among new friends, but nothing really came together. Then she learned about KIN and the Language and Mentoring Partners (LaMP) program. Pretty soon, Geri was paired with a young woman from Mexico who needed help learning English.
Erika, in the US only since 2019, was attending once a week English classes. But they were not enough for her, and she also desired more connections in Knoxville. So after hearing about KIN through a local church, she reached out to KIN to request a tutor.
The pairing with Geri through the LaMP program has been a blessing to Erika. She found someone who not only has helped her learn English, but who speaks her native language and has become not just a teacher, but a friend.
One thing Erika wants people to know is that internationals and refugees coming to our city are desperate for connection. Erica struggled to find a group of young moms to connect with because of the language barrier, but having this connection with Geri has helped, as Geri has also helped connect Erika more within her new community.
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.