Archive: January 2014

Become a Refugee Career Ambassador

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to Employment, News, Opportunities, Volunteer

At the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, we see refugee clients with a range of diverse professional backgrounds. Prior to their arrival in Nashville, some of our clients worked in grocery stores or gas stations; some were doctors and lawyers; and some never had the opportunity to work.

Once refugee families arrive in Nashville, one of their most pressing goals is to secure employment as quickly as possible. At the Center, we work with clients to help them identify employment opportunities and to apply. Of course, our clients face a unique set of additional challenges that many job seekers do not, including varying English-speaking abilities, limited knowledge of computer usage, and lack of transportation.

Our staff and our team of dedicated volunteer Career Ambassadors work with our clients to overcome these issues and help secure their future in their new city. We are always on the lookout for community volunteers who are interested in working with our clients in this capacity. Career Ambassadors are paired with employment-seeking refugees to help them in their search. With staff support, they are responsible for making sure the client’s resume is up-to-date and for finding employment opportunities and applying.

To learn more about our employment services department, please visit this page. To learn about how to become a volunteer at the Center, please contact Marie Bush at [email protected].

Diggin’ In

Posted by Lauren Bailey to Agricultural Programs, News

Our Agricutlural Training class is off to a great start! With a room full of enthusiastic and curious students and our passionate guest  teachers, we’ve covered a lot of material in our first six weeks together.

Most recently, Nashville Foodscapes’, Jeremy Lekich and Chris Childs came to share with our students about composting and cover cropping. Students learned the basics of three different kinds of composting operations: vermicomposting, small scale composting and large-scale composting. They got to see up close what a vermicompost system looked and felt like, and then, they got the chance to work in some compost using a broadfork. All new experiences for many of our students!


Starting Off the Spring Semester of RISE!

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to News, RISE

We’ve started off an exciting second semester with R.I.S.E.! Our Stonebrook students had the chance to work with a dynamic instructor, Ms. Angel, on theater, while our Millwood students are writing a song together that they will later sing and record. Apollo students are learning about photography and taking their own pictures, and the Haywood students started off the semester with some fast-paced hip hop instruction. Our learning foci for the semester are multiplication and division facts and closely reading texts to answer questions about comprehension. Our Millwood students even have a goal of reading seven books each by March, with the incentive of a trip to the Family Fun Center for completion!

I had the opportunity to spend more time with the Haywood students during the first week of R.I.S.E., and, as always, I was thrilled by the kinds of conversations I got to have with these Burmese-Karen middle schoolers. I had a long conversation with one student, Blue, about how brave he thought Nelson Mandela was. We talked about apartheid, why it was wrong, and why Mandela was willing to go to jail for so long to change the system. I know these students have faced oppression, and it made me wonder how much of Mandela’s story resonated with Blue.

Our Millwood students will have the chance, starting January 27, to work with Nashville Public Television to learn about making documentary videos and make their own. I’m very excited that they will be able to tell their stories, in their own words! We also now have four laptop computers, donated by the Ann G. and James B. Ritchey Foundation, which allow us to work with the students on educational math games and English language arts activities. The four computers are shared over three sites, but it’s still a great way to have students do fun, academic activities.

Haywood Students learning to do a hip hop dance

Elders Picking Up Where We Left Off in 2014

Posted by Grant Yoder to Elders, News

The elders program is getting right back into the swing of things in the New Year.  A lot of bright faces and eager minds from our group.  Students were excited to get back to learning, and are sharper than ever.  Their English skills are improving everyday, and I don’t think it is too ambitious to think we will be breaking down the works of Steinbeck and Faulkner in the near future (….perhaps a bit ambitious).  I am amazed  at how quickly they are learning complex concepts like the parts of the U.S. government while at the same time learning a new language.  They are a truly wonderful group of individuals, and I am excited to see what 2014 has in store.

Some of the big prospects for 2014:  more field trips,  more elders, and bigger spaces.  There are a lot of wonderful things to do in Nashville, and I want this group to know what this city has to offer.  We are also hoping to get some more elders involved in the program to enjoy the company of our current group.  I know there are many elders out there who would love interacting with this wonderful group.  Finally we hope to find a new space to conduct our class, to give us some more room to dance/learn.  Things are looking good with our group, and will keep you posted on the latest developments.

Eaton’s Creek Greenhouse Adventure

Posted by Lauren Bailey to Agricultural Programs, News

As the winter months and lack of sunlight slow the pace of the growers of our region, our new agricultural programs are just beginning. On December 23rd, our agricultural training class, attended by over twenty refugees from Burma, traveled to a local farm in Joelton, TN to learn about greenhouses and starting seeds.

As we were driving on our journey to Eaton’s Creek Organics, several of the students mentioned how the farmlands that we drove past looked similar to their villages in Burma.

All of the students attending our agricultural training class have grown fruits and vegetables before moving to the United States. Our classes are structured to build on students’ skills and knowledge and introduce them to growing practices in Middle Tennessee.


Our farm teachers, Tana Comer and Julia Thompson-Reynolds educated students on the basics of starting seeds in a greenhouse. Most of the students had not used a greenhouse in their farming practices before, and for some of our students this was the first time that they started seeds in trays, not directly in the ground.

After learning about making potting soil and taking care of seedlings, students started beets, swiss chard and lettuce. Eaton’s Creek was kind enough to send home lettuce starts with all the students!

Our classes will continue through April, and this week we’ll learn more about what kind of soils are in Middle TN and healthy soil practices from our guest Farmer Brooke Gillion!

“Cuz I’m a Champion!”

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to RISE

One evening in November, we took two sites of RISE students to the Frist Art Center to see two fantastic exhibits. The students were introduced to the paintings of Norman Rockwell. They also had the opportunity to view a diverse array of artwork from 30 African American artists.  The overarching theme of these two exhibits was “What It Means to be an American,” which the docents explored with the students as they walked through the museum.  We all enjoyed the experience, and I was glad to share this meaningful art with the students. But my favorite moment occurred in the car on the way to the museum, as I turned up Katy Perry’s girl anthem, “Roar,” on the radio. Four young girls – three Burmese/Karen and one Egyptian – joined together to sing at the top of their lungs: “Cuz I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me ROAR!”