Category: Uncategorized

Stonebrook: a place for summer fun and educational assistance

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to RISE, Uncategorized

July 8, 2014 - Tuesday at Stonebrook

Tiffany Hodge, director of after school programs, welcomes children into Stonebrook.

Ten students came. Well, eleven, if you count the five year-old who came with his brother. Students are elementary and middle schoolers.

“All right, everyone! Get into groups of three, and answer this question, ‘Do you think freedom is free or does it come at a cost?’”

Qena Armstrong writes the introductory question on the board.




This week’s icebreaker is themed with a post-July Fourth tinge. Ms. Qena Armstrong, RISE volunteer, typically facilitates such questions. Armstrong has taught classes for almost one year, since September 2013.

As she finishes the icebreaker and hurries through a quick vocabulary lesson, a guest, Sisavanh Houghton, brings out her canvas.

Sisavanh Houghton is an art professor at MTSU and is helping with the Frist Center’s Exquisite Nashville project.



Exquisite Nashville

Houghton is a part of the Exquisite Nashville project, hosted by the Frist Center.

The creators of the project are interested in the way that different cultures blend. Many immigrant groups find their home and have changed the city to have a surprisingly multicultural feel. The project incorporates the Exquisite Corpse.

Different community partners have a piece of the artwork, but none of them know what the whole looks like. After completion, the exhibition will be March-July 2015.

The children lean forward to look at Houghton’s canvases. She finished these Pollock-like canvases over the weekend. She instructs the children that they will be sketching animal shapes onto the canvases.

July 10, 2014 - Thursday at Stonebrook

Squeegee in hand, the Hip Hues assistant pushes the vert green ink across the screen. Children circled around her, the assistant produces a white t-shirt with a RISE logo.

After her instructions, RISE students form a line as they compete to be first in line to make their very own t-shirt.

Green ink is smoothed into the screen to imprint a logo.



RISE students sport their newly made t-shirts proudly shortly before going to the tennis court.



After making t-shirts, students and Qena Armstrong, the volunteer teacher, congregate to the tennis court playing a short math game.

Are you looking for Refugee Services?

Posted by Ram Chamlagai to Uncategorized

Come and see us at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee if you are a refugee who has been residing more than eight months and fewer than five years in the United States of America. We have services to help refugee families, providing caseworkers and employment specialists for up to five years. We work under a federally funded program that is currently serving thousands of refugees from around the world. Some of the specific services under the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that we offer are Social Adjustment and Employment services, as well as health screenings, referrals, and financial literacy classes.

In order to fully cope with the challenging environment that refugees encounter, social adjustment services help them when they come into the country. We have a highly dedicated staff, daily providing free services such as filling out applications for Food Stamps, Social Security, Social Security Disability Income, Unemployment, Weekly Certification, Family First, Low Income Housing, Section Eight and more.

Employment services are the most sought after services that we offer to our refugee clients. We have great connections to local businesses that help us to link our clients to various employers in and outside Nashville. Our relationship with employers around Nashville has abundantly helped our clients to build up their careers and work ethic. We put our clients in a place where they can establish a good working environment and come up with awards and good recommendations.

We also offer health screenings and financial literacy classes in different sites. Refugee health screenings are in partnership with local health providers and hospitals that cooperate with us and are willing to provide free health screening. We mainly offer financial literacy classes in three different apartment complexes where a large number of our clients reside. Financial literacy classes help refugees in managing money, using banks and allow them to ask any financial questions regarding mortgage, buying a house, starting up new business, etc.

 So, come and see us at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee where we provide beneficial and helpful services to refugees from different countries. We are very thankful to Office of Refugees Resettlement and Tennessee Office for Refugees for providing funds to help refugees in Nashville.  You can give us a call at 615-366-6868 or email me at [email protected]  for any questions or help.

Koshari: Cooking Egyptian Foods and Writing with our Middle School Students!

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to Uncategorized

Can you picture freshly made pasta drying on a coat hanger? Hanging from a ceiling light fixture?  Well, at the RISE Millwood site we needed to hang the pasta out to dry somewhere, and a student’s clever idea was right on the money.   On March 10th, our students spent the enhancement hour  learning to combine fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and garlic with lentils, rice, and macaroni to make a traditional  Egyptian dish called Koshari; we also learned how to make our own pasta from scratch and discussed what makes a food “raw,” how to eat healthy whole foods, and how to write out a recipe.  Our students were even tasked with consulting their families’ recipes to check the authenticity of our RISE Koshari.

So feel free to come visit us but full disclaimer: you might have to chop up some vegetables.
Special thanks to Laura Wallace and Brook Gillon for working with our RISE Millwood students!

Hanging noodles.

Eating great food!

Writing recipes.


Always Something New to Learn

Posted by Lauren Bailey to Uncategorized

One of my favorite aspects of our agricultural programs is learning from our class members! As we have been teaching and learning from area farmers about growing in the Nashville region, the members of the classes have been teaching us about crops that they’re most familiar with and ways they use these crops.

 Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd is a vegetable that both our Burmese and Nepalese classes were interested in growing. It is in the cucumber family. As soon as members in one class saw it in the seed catalog, they told us that they use it to help with high blood pressure. So, I did a little bit of investigating on the internet and found out that there are many supposed benefits of this vegetable. Check out this interesting international project researching the health benefits of bitter gourd:


I was first introduced to Roselle as sourleaf. I was warned that it might be a bit sour for my palate. The warning did prevent me from trying the sourleaf nor did it prevent me from making an awful puckered face. Roselle is related to the hibiscus and to my eyes looks similar to an okra plant. If you are a gardener and want to try your hand at growing a new plant, try Roselle!


Bitter Gourd picture retrieved from:

Roselle picture retrieved from:



The Refuge Community Garden Opens!

Posted by Lauren Bailey to Uncategorized



The Refuge opened its’ doors for our first community gardener planting day on March 14th, 2014! Our gardeners have been learning about planting in the Nashville region through our ESL class taught by Catherine Pearson. They’ve also been learning about growing in this climate through workshops provided by The Nashville Food Project’s (TNFP) Christina Bentrup and interpreted by our Community Navigator, Simson Sarki .

We view ESL as a strategy to empower our clients to be able to engage in a different way in the Nashville community. We are proud to be doing so through such a unique opportunity, but we’re also cognizant of the power of language and try to hold space in our time together to emphasize cultural exchange and learn from our gardeners.

While all of our gardeners have grow fruits and vegetables in other areas of the world, many of them have not lived in a climate where using a greenhouse is necessary. Last Friday, March 21st, we held a Greenhouse workshop for students at TNFP where they learned more about characteristics of Nashville’s climate  and why we have to transplant certain crops here.

We then started tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cilantro and dill. As we were planting, the gardeners  taught me the Nepali words for cilantro and dill; trying to learn these and remember them was a great reminder of the effort it takes to learn a new language.

We are so proud of the gardeners in our program and are excited to continue to learn with them and from them in this season of growth!



To learn more about the program or look at more pictures, please visit our

A Program That Makes Retired Life Happy

Posted by Ram Chamlagai to Uncategorized

Refugee elders are very proud of having such a great opportunity that our Elders Program provides to them, which keeps them engaged every morning. If we didn’t have our Elders Program it would be very hard for refugee elders just to stay at home, spending their leisure time without doing anything.

It brought happiness to me when I noticed that elders are eager to learn new things and they still have that courage, even they are in their golden years. I personally felt very happy when I saw the big achievement that our elders are making on my first day of teaching in the program. I am very pleased and happy to inform our readers that elders are doing great because of the hard work that our Elders program manager, Grant, has been doing to make their life easy.  Their smiling faces demonstrate the progress they have made since they enrolled in the classes.

The Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee is proud to offer one of the few programs in Nashville that keeps refugees elders busy and helps them think less about challenges in the past. Elders are not only offered classes that they attend on regular basis but also social time and case management services from our dedicated case managers to help make their lives a little easier.

CRIT Benefit at the Basement March 20, 8 p.m.

Posted by Tiffany Hodge to Events, Uncategorized

Join us on Thursday, March 20th at 8 p.m. at the Basement to see Anthony Adams & the Nite Owls, Brittany Kennell, The Beagles, Lewis, and Lauren Adelle perform at On the Stage Nashville. You will hear some of the best voices in town for only $5 AND the proceeds from the event will benefit CRIT! The proceeds will directly support our Ride to Learn campaign, in which we are asking for your donations to help us purchase a van to transport our refugee and immigrant students who lack transportation but are dedicated students in our elders, agricultural, and afterschool programs. Check out Lauren Adelle singing below and we’ll see you on Thursday!