Several Minnesota School of Business students recently volunteered to take part in a service-learning project they’ll likely never forget. The MS Applications class from the Moorhead campus tutored refugees to help them learn english. “Project English” is an initiative that sets up computers with Rosetta Stone language software and teaches new citizens to speak and write English.
Fargo-Moorhead Rotary clubs started “Project English” and so far the program has helped 172 refugees learn English.
It’s now expanded to eight locations around Fargo-Moorhead; the computers have been installed in schools, a public library, public housing, and even a local business.
Heather Ranck, the coordinator of Project English, said for most refugees, using a computer is less intimidating than being in a classroom setting.
“Thanks to the MSB students who came to help New Americans learn English at the James Carlson Library”, Ranck said. “Their helpfulness and willingness to give back makes a difference in the lives of New Americans seeking to improve their English.”
About 2,500 refugees have settled in Fargo-Moorhead in the past 10 years, Ranck said, and most are from non-English speaking countries.
An important benefit of the program is that volunteers who help teach English often become friends and advocates for the refugees.
I feel I made a little difference to these people,” said student Lindsey Thorstad. “I hope I explained it in a way they understood, but I feel like they did.”
Five Fargo-Moorhead Rotary Clubs contributed nearly $13,000 to launch Project English. Since the program began in March 2011, 143 volunteers have contributed 1,000 hours of their time. Rotary Club officials say they expect the program to expand beyond Fargo-Moorhead.