This year I have been eternally grateful to be given multiple opportunities to serve at Ethiopian Tewhedo Social Services, also known as ETSS. ETSS’s mission is to help immigrants and refugees from all different countries accustom to the United States and gain self-sufficiency. Ethiopian Tewhedo had three main programs: an adult program, an afterschool program for kids, and a summer program for their kids as well. The adult program focuses on further developing their English skills, learning American vocabulary and cultural themes, learning about the United States’ government and history to help some gain citizenship, and helping them take the steps to further their education or start a career in the nearby Columbus area. The afterschool/ summer programs are directed towards the children of parents who are refugees or immigrants, as it may be a hard transition for them as well. These programs are led by teachers who divide them up by grades in focus groups and provide homework help, spend time developing reading skills, and implementing cultural stimulation.
Last semester as a part of my group global project, I got a chance to participate in service for ETSS and learn a whole lot about them. I was able to spend a night assisting in their adult program, where I was able to help a group of men and women learn how to communicate daily routines along with the weather. I aided them in completing worksheets, learning new vocabulary, and by correcting their grammar and pronunciation through spelling and reading. I also was able to spend time with the kids by our group taking them on a tour around OSU’s campus and providing a presentation on the importance of furthering education. This was a very amazing experience to be able to give the students motivation to do well and succeed in school a and show them that there are many different routes to success, whether college ends up being in their future or not. This semester, I was given the opportunity to work closer with ETSS by helping out in their office and providing ideas and feedback during their Curriculum Committee meetings, where they plan to further develop a set curriculum and daily lesson plans for their after-school programs to better them. In addition, twice a week I help run this program at one of their site locations. Here, I assist the teachers by making sure the kids are completing all their homework, spending time reading each day, and providing one-on-one help if needed.
ETSS has done so much for me this past year and has broadened my mindset on the world around me. Getting to know these refugees and immigrants has been a privilege to me, for they have taught me so much by hearing their stories. The first time I worked with ETSS, I spent time one-on-one with this one man who was a refugee from a country in Africa. He told me his story on how him and his wife used to live a normal life with normal careers, as a dentist and a computer programmer. He talked about how the government in his country was so dangerous and incontrollable. His business got destroyed and the lifestyle that they would’ve been forced to live would be unbearable. It was so crazy to me how they literally had such normal lives just like people here in the U.S. and it all changed in a blink of an eye. Even though they had to go through this hardship of having to come to a new country and start a new lifestyle, they stayed so optimistic for the future were so grateful and excited to reach their new life goals. This moment was so humbling because we often take advantage of what we have around us. I was able to recognize this by opening my mind to new perspectives and create a new way of thinking.