Embracing a new language and a new culture

 English Club students learning how to make pizza.

English Club students learning how to make pizza.

Written by Elena Chan, Community Development Director

On May 30th our first English Club was launched with the goal of providing an opportunity for our refugee and immigrant neighbors to be able to to practice their conversational English. Besides learning English we realized that many of them due to the language and culture barriers were never invited to an American house and hardly have any social connections with Americans. Having those goals in mind, we specifically avoided using the main building classrooms, but instead we hosted the Club at the Mission Adelante house next door, to create a more social and less academic environment. The English Club became a place where people could learn and socialize with Americans, while sharing new experiences.

Due to the pilot nature of the English Club, we were not sure what would happen, or what to expect. With a lot of help from our volunteers; we formed several stations focusing on health, practical English, cooking, and arts/crafts. Each station was run by volunteers, the activities and conversations focused on their respective theme. Participants were able to choose their station and rotate after one hour. In our cooking station (the busiest of all of the stations); the participants were baking cookies, making pizzas, meatballs, and even making ice-cream without an ice cream maker (using a lot of ice and salt). Over the course of the summer, we had people from several different countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Nepal, Burma, and Congo.

We came across many stories that people shared with us in the Club. We got to know one of our participants; Kho, who left Burma 15 years ago, fleeing to Thailand and living for more than 10 years in the Karenni Refugee Camp in Thailand. We found some images of the camp online and he showed us his primary school in one of the photos. Kho and his family moved to the U.S. 4 years ago. his mother is still in Burma and his dream is to visit his mother and other relatives who are still in Burma. Another dream of Kho’s is for his family to become American citizens. He has already applied to attend a citizenship class at Catholic Charities this Fall.This is just one story of many that people shared with us this summer. It’s encouraging to see people becoming more comfortable in sharing with us and allowing to be a part of their lives.

I would also like to thank all our volunteers for serving this summer with the English Club. Thank you, Travis, Alice, Amy, Katie, Lance, Jan, Julie, Jeannette, Cody, Joanna, Madi, Ruthie, Tyler, Robert.


  • Adelante Thrift is looking for a long-term volunteer who can drive our box truck for pick-up and delivery of large donated items.  A CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) is not required.  This volunteer must also be able to assist in lifting and loading/unloading heavy appliances and furniture.  This volunteer position has the potential to become a paid position at Adelante Thrift, for the right candidate. If you are interested in this volunteer position please fill out our volunteer form at adelantethrift.com/volunteer
  • Our kids ministry programs are looking for people to purchase and deliver new board games for our Tuesday & Thursday programs. If you are interested, please contact Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.