In Memoriam

Jay Ro rakes

Jay Ro helped out at the new Neighborhood House Garden Park on Earth Day 2015.

Neighborhood House and International Learning Center staff mourn the tragic loss of ILC student Jay Ro.

48-year-old Jay Ro was killed in his home early Thursday morning, June 26,  when suspected armed robbers entered and threatened Ro’s 11-year-old son. Jay Ro, a former Cargill employee, attended a special ESL class for displaced workers. “He was a great student,” said instructor Michelle Martin, “great attendance, working hard in the computer lab, a real role model for everyone.”

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11AM on Saturday, July 4th at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 1445 N. 24th St. Milwaukee, WI 53205. Visitation at church will be from 9AM until time of Mass.

Burial will take place on Monday, July 6th at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7301 W. Nash St. Milwaukee, WI 53216 at 10AM.
Please meet at the cemetery office within the gate on Nash Street.
Recent Fox6 news coverage also has funeral details, and video about the St Michaels’ community and their support of the family.
Regarding donations….
• Memorial donations will be accepted at St. Michael’s church on Saturday.
• International Learning Center will be collecting cash donations this week.

• Catholic Charities has set up a bank account for the family to cover the cost of the funeral:

Checks may be made out to
Jay Ro Memorial Fund
C/O Park Bank
Downtown CSR’s
330 East Kilbourn Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
If you are interested in making a donation online  please contact ILC instructor Sally Kuzma.
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Reconnecting with Nature in a New Land

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For  refugees used to living off the land and being in close contact with nature, city life can be a difficult adjustment. Spending time in the forest is a way to relieve stress, renew self-confidence,  and reconnect with essential elements of life.

ILC students and their families had several opportunities to explore the outdoors this spring. Field trips to Devil’s Lake for hiking and birding (part of a free monthly Family Adventures series), and to the Neighborhood House Nature Center in Dodge County for maple sugaring and garlic mustard picking were popular and well attended.

Interpreter Nang Kham provided key language support for speakers of Burmese, Karen, and other Myanmar languages, while Nature Center educators Christina Hill and Niki Espy helped interpreted what the birds and squirrels were saying and doing.



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Back Care for All

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Students from Marquette’s nurse practitioner grad program gave a presentation on back care for International Learning Center students, with help from in-house interpreter Nang Kham. A show of hands quickly revealed that nearly everyone has had back issues – whether from jobs that require heavy lifting, carrying small children, or the stress and strain of everyday life. Freddie and Peter demonstrated stretching and proper lifting techniques,  communicating across cultural and language barriers by keeping their language simple, using pictures, and showing how. ILC would definitely welcome them back again!

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Civic Engagement: Gaining A Voice

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Four Wisconsin State Legislators welcomed a group of refugees from International Learning Center (ILC), a program of Neighborhood House of Milwaukee in Madison last week, Tuesday February 10, 2015. The adult students met with legislators Chris Larson, Evan Goyke, Jonathan Brostoff, and Christine Sinicki to discuss expanding a key college aid program for minorities. The meeting was a powerful civics lesson for the adult students, many of whom come from countries that lack a functioning democracy, and a boost to their preparation for the rigorous US citizenship exam, and for those who heard their concerns. International Learning Center’s Citizenship program has been in existence since the 1980s and is accredited by the US Board of Immigration Appeals.

The group, which includes refugees from Southeast Asia and Africa, advocated for changes to the state’s Minority Retention Grant, a college aid program targeting under-represented and under-resourced groups. The grant, which was legislated in the wake of the Viet Nam war, currently benefits only refugees from Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia, in addition to African-American and Hispanic minorities. The group would like to see the grant’s benefits expanded to include all refugee groups, as they are all minorities with low representation in higher education and/or low income.

The proposal to change the Minority Retention Grant was initiated by a refugee from Burma who, after attaining his GED, found he was excluded from significant college aid because he is from an ethnic group not specifically named in the grant. Sen. Larson, who serves on the Senate Committee on Education, and Rep. Sinicki, who serves on the Assembly Committee on Education, agreed to draft legislation expanding language in the grant to make it more inclusive.

The refugees also expressed concerns about changes to the FoodShare program. Say Wah, a refugee from Burma, reminded legislators of how the new FoodShare cuts going into effect will impact her adult children who would like to pursue college but have restricted access to grants and less support from that program. A photo exhibition in the rotunda, Hunger Next Door, sponsored by Hunger Task Force, shed light on the difficult economic choices facing many families.

Many thanks to Milwaukee Peace Corps Association whose grant provided transportation for the group.

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Holiday Party is a Massive Multicultural Feast

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Scenes from the annual Holiday Party at International Learning Center – a massive multicultural feast of food, music, friendship!

Performances included a tribute to Woody Guthrie (with support from Paul Cebar); four-part harmonies from Karen singers; elders from Burma, China, and Congo shaking it up; a Burmese beauty queen reminding us of the value of learning; traditional carols sung by people from many nations; and pre-schoolers showing off their ABCs.

Special thanks to instructor Jean Richie and the good folk of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Germantown whose Giving Tree provided Christmas gifts for all; Susan and Mary Maronek whose constant flow of donated clothing has helped many a newcomer stay warm in these Milwaukee winters; and to the thirty-five volunteers who tutored English and citizenship.

A shout-out to guests from the resettlement community: Deb Rakowski, Claire Reuning, Natasa Torbica, Craig Stone, Valerie, Joann… the list goes on!

LISTEN TO ILC STUDENTS on Radio 88.9 – a big thanks to Dori Zori for posting this great radio story about the big dreams, hard work, and English under construction at International Learning Center!


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