More Than a Book Club

2019 n08

An easy reader version of Anne of Green Gables lies open on the table, a pen-and-ink illustration covering one full page. Laura waits while a student searches for the right word. She’s patient, and she doesn’t try to supply the word, but when her student mispronounces it, Laura gently corrects her. The two work until the student says it properly.

2 women hugging

Laura is a wife and mother who also maintains a part-time job. It isn’t always easy to fit everything into her days, but Laura knows how it feels to search for the right word in your second or third language. Growing up overseas, she has been the foreigner, understanding neither the language nor the culture. So when her church connected with a nearby apartment complex, Laura quickly understood that God wanted her to carve time out of her schedule for the international women—mostly refugees—who live there.

These days, Laura leads a book club before the formal ESL class then watches the young children while their mothers attend class. She’s been working at this apartment complex for two years now. It’s taken that long for the women to trust her, to invite her into their homes, to visit her home, and to ask more personal questions about the cultural issues they face.

Recently, they didn’t discuss their assigned chapter in the book because the women were struggling with some modern cultural norms in America. That’s okay. Anne (with an ‘e’) will be there when they come back.


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International men, women, and children need to continue learning English year round. They also need good advice about practical challenges of living in America. Want to help? Sign up as a volunteer with KIN today or donate here to support our 1-on-1 Language and Mentoring Partners (LaMP) program now taking place across Knoxville!

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