Our New In-houses Advocates: Hunger Task Force

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If you’ve ever tried to apply for health care or other assistance, you know how confusing it can be. Imagine the challenge for someone new to the country, with limited English and literacy skills.

This summer, ILC is launching a new partnership with Hunger Task Force to help refugee students apply for Food Share and other benefits. In-house Advocates are available to assist anyone with Food Share, W2 and child care applications and renewals.  “This is a great partnership for our students,” said ILC Instructional Supervisor Cynthia Zarazua. The service fills a real need in the refugee community: convenient access to social services, with language support and advocacy. These services are available to everyone in the community.

Self-sufficiency can be a struggle for adult refugees. Workers with limited English are often limited to low-wage jobs, and may cycle in and out of temporary and seasonal work. Keeping up-to-date with benefits can be both daunting, and essential for building a new life in the US. ILC’s partnership with Hunger Task Force empowers refugees to understand and navigate the social service systems that are available to them.

Hunger Task Force believes that every person has a right to adequate food obtained with dignity, and was responsible for bringing 175 donated turkeys to ILC at Thanksgiving last year!

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Soccer Tournament Showcases Refugee Talent

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“I never cease to be amazed how funny and entertaining it can be to chase a ball around on a space of grass…I have witnessed and shared in some moments of serious laughter and real joy with this group of guys, despite the many hardships in their lives. We have been practicing and I have been really impressed with some of the students’ skills.” Coach Patrick Rich shared his thoughts on the recent World Refugee Soccer Tournament.

Twelve teams participated in the tournament.  ILC’s team had Karen, Chin, Burmese, Arakan, Rohingya ehtnic groups represented. Players from at least 5 countries (Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Eritrea, USA) participated in the tournament. The winner will receive a trophy at Milwaukee’s World Refugee Day celebration.

Special thanks to Kevin Brennan, head coach of the Cardinal Stritch University soccer team for the jerseys, NH’s Mike Majer for driving, Nang Kham for interpreting, Elizabeth Miller for the photos, Patrick Rich for instigating and coaching, and to all the ILC students and fans who led the charge.

World Refugee Day is taking place Friday, June 20th at Pere Marquette park, 11am – 2pm.

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Literacy through experience: the community garden

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ILC students enjoy participating in Urban Eden, a community garden just outside the school on 26th St. This year, four students have rented beds for themselves and their families, and three beds were donated to the ILC for general use. Donations also help subsidize bed rental for low income students.

This month students helped fill beds with compost, planted in the flower beds, picked up trash in the area. We’re looking forward to using this outdoor classroom throughout the summer. Community partners Central United Methodist Church, St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kompost Kids, and Michigan Avenue neighbors all share space and resources at the garden, now in its fifth season.

A few beds are still available!

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Winter IS Wonderful

21 ILC students and families took part in a Winter Wonder Hike at Neighborhood House Nature Center, many experiencing their first real winter in the US.  One student from Libya was curious about the snow:”We don’t have snow in our country, but sand!”
Finding animal tracks, sledding, and  hiking in the snow made for a full day, followed by a some time to share lunch and warm cold toes by a roaring fire.

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175 Turkeys! Hunger Task Force Delivers a Happy Thanksgiving

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175 Turkeys! Hunger Task Force delivered a happy Thanksgiving to International Learning Center students today. Hunger Task Force visited the school in October to explain the coming cuts in food stamp assistance. Students who shared their stories about why food stamps are important (no small task for English language learners) were automatically selected to receive a free turkey, but no one was left out – there were plenty of turkeys for all. What’s next? Turkey curry, turkey with rice and lemon grass – the possibilities are endless!

Many thanks to Zaw, Eric, and Fue from Hunger Task Force for their hard work.

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Educating the Whole Family

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When Than Kyi first came to the United States as a refugee from Burma 5 years ago, she knew she’d need more English to help her family succeed in a new land. Than Kyi enrolled at International Learning Center, where she made quick progress in English literacy and speaking, and increased involvement with her children’s education. This summer her two older children attended Community Learning Center Summer Camp at Neighborhood House, and her two younger children attended preschool at ILC while she prepared for her upcoming citizenship exam.

Program Assistant Nang Kham provided crucial bilingual support to help Than Kyi and other refugee families register for summer programs. Parents attended summer English and citizenship classes while their kids had access to academic support and recreational activities at nearby Neighborhood House.

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