Sunday, May 26, 2024

My Ukrainian refugees

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Diplomat Magazine
Diplomat Magazine
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

By Ali Redling

What I have learned from teaching English to my Ukrainian refugee students:

Learning English allows my students to go through the grieving process in order to find healing and can be very therapeutic. 

English allows my students to be in denial.  Coming to class and learning English is a distraction from the destruction going on back home.  They come to class in desperate need of something to avert their attention…so we conjugate verbs and practice pronunciation. 

English class comforts my students when they’re angry by redirecting their focus and allowing them to cool off.  In a classroom of refugees each student knows that someone nearby knows what they’re going through.  There is quick camaraderie as we practice phrases such as, “I am from the Ukraine” and “I am Ukrainian”. 

Learning English allows my students to bargain. They can come to class and feel like they are in control of a small part of their lives.  When everything else around them seems to be spinning out of control, English class remains.  It is constant.  My students may not know how to order a meal, where they will live next week, or what city their new child will be born in, but they can practice possessive adjectives. 

Learning English helps my students to avoid depression because it offers them a small goal to work towards each day.  It gets them out of their rut or that ever-downward spiral and offers them hope as they envision their future selves as English speakers, dreaming of what they may be or attain someday.  My classroom is filled with physicians, new mothers, accountants, hairdressers, and engineers that desire to live and thrive. 

Learning English assists my students in accepting their circumstances.  Many of my students will not return to their homeland, and they will need to start a new life elsewhere.  Knowing English will provide more opportunities for their new lives. Attending English class each week is the baby-step they must take in order to achieve and create this new life.

Ali Redling teaching Ukrainians refugees at Leonardo Royal Hotel in The Hague.

Diplomat Magazine note: Ali Redling is shaping refugees’ lives by imparting her knowledge and always inspires them to dream, to fight, and to never give up. Ali is preparing a group of Ukrainians refugees for the challenges of tomorrow. They already said about her: “She will  have a tremendous impact on our lives”.

This extended ESL program has been made possible by the warm hospitality offered by Catherine Anne Daily who transformed the ground floor of her monumental residence on the Berkenbosch Blokstraat and offered it as an “international house” and ad hoc classroom space. 

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