The Orange Line

2019 n03

She came to Knoxville alone: a widow with three small children, fleeing an ongoing conflict in her African home country. She found an English class and attended faithfully all summer. With a small child on each hand and her baby strapped to her back, she wrote down every word and asked many questions, but she needed to learn more quickly, so she added another day of classes.


Soon she found a job, but she had to take the bus to get there.

That first day, she climbed on the bus near her home, paid her fare, and sat down. For over an hour, she rode around and around on the bus. She could see her workplace in the distance, but the bus never got close enough. Finally, she mustered her courage and approached the driver. In her limited English and heavy accent, she pointed toward her workplace and asked, “Why can’t you take me there?” He explained that she needed to take the orange line, and he kindly showed her where to wait for it. She disembarked and waited for the proper bus, which took her straight to her workplace.


Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you—to approach the driver on a city bus--but for this young African mother, it was incredibly intimidating! Later that day, she texted her English teacher, “Thank you, Teacha, for making me confident in English. I was brave to speak to bus driver. He told me I need to find “orange” line bus. I know “orange” because your class! I remember picture of “orange” in class! I am very happy to know you!”


KIN typically helps launch four new English as a Second Language (ESL) sites each year. (Here's a complete listing of available classes.) Classes offered through KIN do more than improve the English of our students. They increase their confidence and ability to thrive in Knoxville!


READY TO GET INVOLVED?

You can help a new Knoxville resident learn “orange” (and all their other colors) so they can thrive here, just like this amazing woman. Register as a volunteer with KIN or sign up for ESL teacher training today by emailing the coordinator (vols@kin-connect.org)!


photo credit: katbus.com

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