Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Town hall meeting!

Town Hall Meeting
Refugee Resettlement in Colorado

You’re invited to a town hall meeting with Eskinder Negash, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement; Earl Johnson, Director, Office of Family Assistance: and Thomas F. Sullivan, Regional Administrator, Region VIII (Denver), Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This is an important forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing refugee resettlement in Colorado.

Monday, November 14, 2011
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Temple Events Center
1595 Pearl Street
Denver, CO 80203-2021
(720) 663-8130

(The Temple Events Center is at the corner of Pearl and 16th street, a block down from Colfax. The only street side parking is limited to two hours. Plenty of parking is available in lots next to the Temple Events Center and down Pearl street between 16th and 17th street. Most are $3 for the day and require cash deposited in the self-serve collection box.)

If you have any questions or need directions, please call the Colorado Refugee Services Program office at 303-863-8211.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another dispatch from the field

This month, in-home tutor Andy Prinsen reflects on his experience with the Burmese family he helps with English and literacy.

Though she is only 59, she looks much older, and it's as if this is the first time she has held a pen. If I place my own hand over hers and help her make the motions of the letters, she can write in the big block, all-caps print of starting language learners. But if I sit and watch, it takes the old woman several minutes to sit and contemplate a plan for forming the letters. She mumbles to herself and makes motions with her finger in the air - always starting from the bottom and pushing up rather than from the top down like I've tried to show her dozens of times.

But when she finishes, when she gets through scratching out all five letters of her first and last name combined, something magical happens. I give her a thumbs up and say "Good job!" words she doesn't actually understand the meaning of, and there is a sparkle in her eye - a sense of academic accomplishment that I have to remind myself every week she never got as a little girl. For her, these are the same steps I took as a kindergartner. But she doesn't seem upset that it took her much longer. Like her fellow countrywomen, she is steadfast - even stoic.

The woman's name is Ma Naw* and I get to meet with her and her husband every week to learn English. They are refugees from Burma that have been living here in Denver since February. When I show up at their door, a less than ideal apartment complex in one of Denver's less desirable neighborhoods, the old man is always wearing a sweatshirt and a jacket, with both hoods on. Even at 65°, Denver feels much colder than the jungle where he and his wife were rice farmers for decades. When I look at this man and realize he has been alive since 1932, there are so many things I want to ask him. He has seen Burma go from a British colony to an independent nation. He has then seen that nation overthrown and ripped apart by a violent military junta who then made it their policy to target people from his and other ethnic groups.

But we can't talk about any of this yet because we're still working on "money" ("pay-jong" in Karen), "spoon" ("nu-tow"), and "head" ("ko-quee"). And I know that neither his English nor my Karen will probably ever be good enough for us to have those conversations that I would love to have. But for now, that's ok. For now I can settle for sharing laughs over their inability to produce an "f" sound without any top front teeth, and my inability to pronounce most any of the sounds in their language. For now, I will do my part how I can and hope that one day they will be able to return to the land they love.

If you live in the Denver area and are interested in becoming an English tutor for a refugee family, visit the program's website or Emily Griffith Technical College's website to learn how.

Andy Prinsen is a staff member with Global Refuge, a nonprofit organization that provides relief in conflict, human persecution, and natural and man-made disasters, with an emphasis on a lasting and hopeful recovery. They work inside Burma, where his English students are from. http://www.globalrefuge.org/

*Name changed for privacy

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Celebrate Bada Dashain 2011

Volunteers: Is your student from Bhutan? If so, Denver's Bhutanese community would like to help you learn a bit about Hindu culture by sharing some core cultural values and traditions.

On the auspicious occasion of biggest Hindu festival, “Bada Dashain,” the Bhutanese Community organization of Colorado, in coordination with the Special Durga Puja Committee, is organizing a day long Durga Puja celebration to commemorate the divine victory of Goddess Durga over the devil king Maishasur.

Therefore we cordially invite you to grace the grand celebration. The celebration begins with a recitation of the holy book by religious leaders followed by singing of religious songs in praise of Goddess Durga and finally ends with a blessing. A variety of traditional food (Prasad) will be served throughout the program.

Lowry Park
1000 Dayton Street

Wednesday, October 5
Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also, don’t worry about this being an all day event. You can drop by at any time to learn and celebrate. You can also target the noon hour as the best time to share in the celebration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tina Griego, Denver Post

Griego: A refugee in Colorado finally reunited with his family after years of waiting
By Tina Griego
Denver Post Columnist
Posted: 09/25/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 09/25/2011 10:42:41 AM MDT

On Thursday at midnight, the main terminal at Denver International Airport is nearly empty. The ticket counters have long closed. A worker polishes the floors. A chipper Burger King employee makes coffee and takes orders and jokes with two TSA agents. "Just another night in paradise."

Degnath Adhikari waits for his family to arrive. It is not a stretch to say he's been waiting for two years. He left the refugee camp in Nepal and arrived in Denver on Sept. 17, 2009. He left behind his parents, two sisters and two brothers. He believed they would join him within six months. Six months came and went.

Read more: Griego: A refugee in Colorado finally reunited with his family after years of waiting - The Denver Post

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eat well so others can simply eat

Unless you never tune into news via any media, you are certainly aware of the famine and human tragedy unfolding in the Horn of Africa. Starving and displaced Somalis have been pouring into Kenya at over a thousand per day looking for some relief.

Because of the magnitude of the number of people trying to get help, international aid agencies are strapped for resources. There are many ways to donate to the cause, including a local fundraiser here in Denver.

Please join ACC for a dinner benefiting the famine relief efforts of Save the Children.

Thursday, September 22, 6-10pm

Le Central, 112 E 8th Ave

Paella Buffet and Sangria

Tickets: $50 couple/$35 individual

Available for purchase at ACC, Safari Thrift and at the door.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coffee with a purpose

Something new and quite exciting is coming to Emily Griffith Technical College this fall: Emily's Coffee. This full-featured coffee shop will be a real-life learning lab for refugee students. The shop will offer a full selection of coffee drinks, including espresso, latte, and cappuccino.

The coffee shop will provide refugee students the opportunity to learn the realities of fast-paced customer service and workplace expectations, as well as the day-to-day processes that make a small business run.

Now hiring
The shop is slated to open later in the fall, but hiring for paid staff has started. There is currently an opening for a barista/coffee shop manager. In addition to having exceptional barista skills and the ability to pull an excellent espresso, candidates should have some understanding of refugee populations, a willingness to work in a multicultural environment, patience, and a talent for training. Click here to see the complete job description and candidate qualifications.

We'll keep you posted on the grand opening details of Emily's Coffee as the date approaches.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Age is just a number

Refugees come in all shapes and sizes--and many ages. The CRESL program serves adults both at Emily Griffith Technical College (EGTC) and through the in-home tutoring program.

While most of the adults who attend classes at EGTC are of working age, many retired seniors aren't up for the rigors of daily classes and the commute to and from downtown. This doesn't mean our older refugee clients don't have a desire to learn English or to adapt to American culture. In fact, they're some of the most eager students we have in the program.

If you have taken a break from tutoring or you would like to start, please consider working with one of the many seniors waiting for an in-home tutor. The experience is often even more rewarding than working with a younger person.

This month, UNHCR published two stories about elderly refugees. Both are inspiring!

At 99, grandma from Bhutan chooses new life over old

DAMAK, Nepal, August 22 (UNHCR) – Unlike many elderly refugees in eastern Nepal's camps who pass their time reading scriptures and chatting with each other, 99-year-old Bishnu Maya Bharati grabs her refugee identity card and visits the UN refugee agency's office every now and then, asking about her resettlement case.

The old woman, along with eight family members, has been waiting to get resettled in the United States, the largest destination of refugees from Bhutan opting for third country resettlement. Five members of her elder son's family have already started new lives in the United States.

"I want to go for resettlement rather than go back to Bhutan as the future of my children and grandchildren will be better in the US," said Bharati. Click here to read the full article.

Zambia's oldest refugee celebrates 100th birthday
MAYUKWAYUKWA, Zambia, Aug 2 (UNHCR) – As fellow Angolan refugees sang, danced and ululated, Erculano Salugardo celebrated his 100th birthday with gifts, toasts and goodwill messages in one of Africa's oldest refugee settlements.

The centenarian, believed to be the oldest refugee in Zambia, was in an exuberant mood during his landmark birthday party last Friday in the Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement. He even joined in the singing after advising well wishers that the best way to reach old age was to take care of your health.

The celebration was organized by UNHCR, Zambian government officials and other refugees in the settlement. A beaming Salugardo was presented with a cake and several gifts, including a new hut, mattress, blankets, food and clothing.

The only thing missing was his family. Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Job openings here and there

Mercy Housing’s Resident Services Team is looking for an After School and Summer Program Manager at Grace Apartments (in Denver). Experience with Refugee Youth highly desired. Full time, benefited position.

Must be dependable, community minded and a self starter. Interest in soccer and other outdoor physical activities a plus.

Please send resume directly to kbonamasso@mercyhousing.org or apply online at http://www.mercyhousing.org/ by Friday July 1st.

To find job openings at Emily Griffith, simply go to http://www.egos-school.com/ and click on “About Us” near the top of the page. On the right hand side, click on “Job Opportunities.”

A link to each specific job opening will appear. Currently, there four open positions.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Currently on YouTube

The UNHCR channel on YouTube is currently featuring first-person accounts of refugees' experiences. Refugees share their compelling stories and talk about what it's like to start life over.

The introduction video is shown here. For the first-person stories, visit the channel by clicking here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Refugees in Focus: A Film Festival

Please join us on June 14, 15, and 16 for

Refugees in Focus
A film festival commemorating World Refugee Day

Three days, seven films, ten million stories

All films will be shown at Emily Griffith Technical College in downtown Denver. The roster includes the new documentary, Welcome to Shelbyville, as well as six other films that explore refugee issues both in the U.S. and abroad.

Watch. Think. Discuss.
For event details and full listing of the films scheduled, please click here to visit our website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

World Refugee Day is Coming!

World Refugee Day is June 20, but in Denver we'll be celebrating on Friday, June 17. Join us for a day-long conference about refugees, or come for cultural fun in the evening and enjoy music, food, and dance. See you then!

Click on the image to enlarge.

To register for the free conference, click here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The illusion of peace and democracy

There is a compelling article about Burma and the Karen refugees in Thailand in today's edition of The Economist. Unsettling, indeed.

Here is an excerpt of the article :
Yet nobody who works in eastern Myanmar, where most of the refugees would have to go back to, believes that the conditions remotely exist for their safe return. Indeed, the region gives the lie to the notion that the country really is making ASEAN’s “steady progress” towards the sunny uplands of democracy and peace.

For a start, the low-level guerrilla war that has rumbled on between small groups of armed Karen and the Myanmar army has if anything got nastier since the election. The Thailand Burma Border Consortium, the main NGO looking after the refugees, estimates that conflict has made a further 70,000 people homeless in Kayin (formerly Karen) state in the past year, with 113 villages cleared. Often, the army orders villagers off their land to allow for mining, logging and other resource exploitation. In all, Burmese who have been internally displaced are reckoned to number over 500,000. In the past few weeks hundreds more have been fleeing over the border
To read more, visit the Website.

photo: corbis, The Economist

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bhutan explained in 5 minutes

During the past 18 months, Colorado has received an increasing number of Bhutanese refugees who are coming from camps in Nepal. If you're unfamiliar with what led to the ethnic Nepalese being forced to leave Bhutan, the PBS News Hour has a concise yet thorough explanation of the situation on its Website. The story and slideshow are five minutes long.

Photo: Don Duncan, PBS

About 100,000 refugees from Bhutan have been living in U.N.-run refugee camps in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s. Many of these ethnic Nepalese are in the process of being resettled in other countries, but a few hard-liners are looking to return to Bhutan -- even through force. Click here for the story and slideshow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dear Abby

On Monday, May 2, 2011, Dear Abby featured a letter about how to be a helpful volunteer--especially young people and those looking for internships. It may have been written by someone you know. Just sayin'.


DEAR ABBY: I am a volunteer manager coordinating services between 200 students and tutors in an adult refugee English as a Second Language program. We benefit greatly from the skills and perspectives of young people, but the job requires volunteers to be self-directed and mature enough to handle the assignment. May I offer some advice to those who wish to volunteer for any program for class credit -- as an intern or during summer vacation?

Click here to read the entire column.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Women's programs build community, confidence

Kristen Damron understands the Chinese proverb that "women hold up half the sky." She also knows that refugee women have a particularly challenging situation ahead of them when they are resettled in the United States. Kristen is the Women's Programs Coordinator for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) in Denver.

In her work, Kristen sees that refugee women are expected--by their families and by their communities--to keep up with their roles as homemakers, mothers, and wives while also facing the often incredibly difficult challenges that resettlement brings. Kristen stated that, "Women are a marginalized population, regardless of which community they're in. They have a number of disadvantages. Within the refugee population, they're the backbone to a household and are tasked with raising the kids, running the household, as well as getting a job. They are the key to the family's success in the U.S., even if the family doesn't realize that. The greater the woman's success, the greater the chances of her family's success."

Women are less likely to take time for themselves and to take care of their own needs, even though they would benefit from support during the resettlement process. In many cultures, men don't share in child care or housekeeping responsibilities, and this means that women's adjustment and familiarity with a new culture may lag. Within the Colorado Refugee Network, the in-home ESL tutoring program is one program that strives to address some of the issues of isolation and language deficiency that refugee women may face. This program, however, addresses the issues one woman at a time, but can't build a support system within each ethnic community.

LIRS offers several programs specifically to support and empower refugee women. According to Kristen Damron, "The programs are designed to be supportive, holistic, and empowering for the women. They're supportive in that women are often somewhat excluded from integration into American society because of language, education, social barriers, and family responsibilities. Our programs give these women a way to come together and support each other. The programs include financial literacy, WorkStyles for women (a job readiness course), community support groups, a microenterprise program that also partners with A Little Something (the Denver Refugee Women's Crafts Initiative), and most recently, a health awareness and education program.

In the financial literacy program, a partnership with Emily Griffith Opportunity School, the group talks about the basics of household finances and money (in general) in the United States. The women's care groups bring together women from the same ethnic community for gatherings at the apartment complexes where the women live. They learn about their rights and responsibilities in the United States, they discuss topics related to domestic violence and personal safety, and they work on life skills, but also build supportive relationships with each other over the course of the sessions. To see a group in action, take a look at the video posted here.

Currently, the Women's Care Groups are in need of volunteers. Volunteers can provide transportation for the women who live at sites other than where the gatherings take place. Volunteers are also needed to work with the community leaders in helping to lead their groups. Two volunteers work with each group. Right now there are four groups, but Kristen hopes to expand that to at least eight in order to accommodate more participants.

Later this spring, Kristen will launch the first Women's Health Walk and Fair in Cheesman Park in Denver on Saturday, May 14. According to Kristen, "We wanted to create a special event to commemorate National Women's Health Week. We wanted our event to to be special and to celebrate these women, their health, and their importance in their families, and we wanted to do that in a way that would bring the rest of the community--what we call the "receiving community" together with these newcomers. We also wanted to create a way to help these women see that they're valued and their health and their bodies are valued. We also want the women themselves to be involved with and excited about the event and the concepts we're presenting.

The Women's Health Walk and Fair is free and will feature guest speakers, health education information, cultural offerings, nutrition information, and yoga in the park. Volunteers are needed to help with the event, especially those with a background in healthcare. Also, Kristen had hoped to provide event T-shirts for the participants, but there is no funding for that. A donation of event T-shirts would be gratefully accepted!

If you would like to volunteer at this event or with a Women's Care Group, please contact Kristen Damron at kristen.damron@lfsco.org.

Kristen said that volunteering isn't the only way to help refugees have a better resettlement experience. "Really, the first thing people can do for refugees is to be friendly. Smile, have enough guts to start a conversation--even if you're waiting in line, go ahead and strike up a conversation--and don't be afraid to have a welcoming demeanor. Just starting that conversation will make someone very happy because you've acknowledged that they are here and they are included."


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It takes a village, but mostly, it takes a good mom...

In 2005, we started a class for Somali Bantu women living on the east side of Denver. The women in that class have shared a lot of their stories over the years. They've also told us about what they want from their new life in the United States. Above all else, they want their children to succeed here and to make the most of the opportunities around them.

Fatuma Ali is one of our orignal class members--and she still attends, every week. Fatuma hasn't had an easy time of it here, but despite that, she has always been diligent about making sure her children value education--something she, herself, has never had. She also has taught them the value of hard work--in school, at home, and working the land.

It seems so fitting then that Fatuma's eldest daughter, Amina Salat, was recently honored with a "9 Kids Who Care" award from KUSA, the NBC affiliate in Denver, for her dedication to helping others through community service.

In addition to receiving her award at a luncheon and ceremony last weekend, Amina was also profiled on the news yesterday. Amina spends time helping with A Little Something, the Denver Refugee Crafts Initiative, and she volunteers at SAME Cafe in Denver. She is also a leader in Growing Colorado Kids, a local urban farming initiative that shares its harvest with those in need. In addition to her school and volunteer work, Amina is indispensable helping her mom at home.

Fatuma is very, very proud of her daughter!

Click here to read the story on the 9News Website, or simply watch the video, below.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book event!

Book reading and signing

Hadidja Nyiransekuye
The Lances Were Looking Down: One Woman’s Path through the Rwandan Genocide to Life in the States

Thursday, March 3, 2011
7:30 pm
Tattered Cover - Historic LoDo
1628 16th St.
Denver, CO

In 1994, Hadidja Nyiransekuye was witness to and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that lasted 100 days and claimed the lives of nearly one million people. Hadidja immigrated to the United States in 1998 with her children, and from that time, experienced the refugee resettlement process both as a participant and as an observer. Her memoir not only recounts the details of surviving a life caught up in the currents of change, but also takes a frank look at the politics, intentions and outcomes of stateside resettlement efforts.

Hadidja went on to earn her MSW and Ph.D. from the University of Denver, and currently teaches at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

She will discuss and sign her memoir, The Lances Were Looking Down: One Woman’s Path through the Rwandan Genocide to Life in the States at the Tattered Cover's LoDo location on Thursday, March 3. To request a signed copy of the book, email books@tatteredcover.com

To learn more about Hadidja Nyiransekuye, click here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Link up!

More and more of our students have computers and Internet access at home. The boom of iPad sales, and now Verizon's new Xoom tablet, mean more of our tutors have access to the Web at almost any time.

Using ESL sites is a good way to add interactivity to your lessons, as well as easing your student into becoming familiar with the computer. Where to begin and how can you find good sites for your lessons?

Sally Bertoli, the head librarian at Emily Griffith Opportunity School, has figured out the answers to many of these questions for you. The EGOS library site has a page completely dedicated to ESL--including some sites for mouse tutorials, learning colors, and working on drag-and-drop activities.

You'll find that some sites are more helpful than others, depending on what you and your student are trying to achieve. Always preview a site first, before including it in a lesson, and think of ways to enhance a lesson or give an assessment with one of these tools. Sure, some look a little childish, but they cans till be effective when included among several approaches to the material.

To visit Sally's site, go to tiny.cc/esl123

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The joy of...mail?

You probably don't give much thought to the mail--in general--or the mail that comes to your house. If you've come to the U.S. from a country where there is no structured mail system, though, this daily delivery can seem like both a miracle and a baffling mystery.

Imagine opening the mailbox and looking through the contents, not knowing what is important, what is advertising, and what is personal correspondence. You wonder: Why are these things coming at all? Also consider feeling so overwhelmed by the not knowing that you simply stop picking up the mail at all.

For our students who are not literate or who haven't yet learned to read using a different alphabet, sorting through the mail can be a frustrating challenge. Your student thinks, Maybe it's all important. Maybe none of it is important. It might not even be for me. What do I do with it now that I have it?

One of the first things you can do is teach your student to recognize her (or his) name in print. Look at it typed, handwritten, and printed in different typefaces. Try to get to a point where she can pick out her own name when there is other text on the same page (or envelope).

Next, consider sending mail to your student. Why not start with a Valentine? You can buy one or create one by hand or on your computer. An easy-to-read message using simple language will be most effective. Address the card by hand and print the student's name and address clearly. Think about how a kindergarten teacher would address a card for a student. Let there be no ambiguity!

This can be the start of a good culture lesson. When and why do we send cards? To whom do we send them? Where do you sign it? What is the proper way to sign? My mother recently sent me a box filled with papers, projects, and cards from when I was in the earliest years of elementary school. Birthday cards and Mother's Day cards bear the carefully printed endearment, "From, your daughter Sharon McCreary." At least there was no doubt about the origin of the warm wishes.

Think of a lesson about buying stamps, properly addressing a piece of mail and using a return address, or dealing with misdirected mail. I was surprised recently when I found out how many Americans don't know what you're supposed to do with misdirected/mis-delivered mail that arrives at your house (hint: You are not supposed to throw it in the trash!).

Are you going on vacation? Consider sending a picture post card to your student. Don't forget about your student's birthday! You can also send thank-you cards, "thinking of you," cards, notes or cards that celebrate a job well done, a short note if you miss a lesson, a photograph you took, or holiday cards.

In our busy, modern lives, mail can sometimes feel like just one more thing to deal with, but I'll bet that when you shuffle through the bills and junk mail, your curiosity is piqued by a hand-addressed piece of personal mail. It will likely be the first thing you open because it's special just by the nature of being part of a personal connection. This program is all about personal connections.

So, why not start now? Valentine's Day is less than a week away. Whether you buy a card or make one, this is great time to start incorporating the mail into your teaching--and to let your student know you think of her often.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cultural resources that might be helpful

Is your student a Nepali speaker?

Here are two resources that may prove useful. Aksharica is a Nepali -language newsletter that aims to educate, inform, inspire, and empower the Nepali-speaking community (Bhutanese and Nepali) in America. The word Aksharica combines the Nepali word "letter" with the word "America," just as newcomers will blend cultures as they adapt to life in a new country.
Click here to access the newsletter online.

In addition, Aksharica has made arrangements with the Nepali Dictionary Project to provide Bhutanese/Nepali families with a Nepali–English Dictionary for free. To get a free dictionary, the request has to come directly from the end users. Please assist your student with this task!

The second page of the newsletter contains a Dictionary Request Form, for families to complete and mail to Aksharica’s address. Alternatively, the dictionaries can also be requested online. Agencies can purchase the book from the Nepali Dictionary Project for $16 each.


UPDATE: JUNE 6, 2011. Someone has contacted us and asked that you not request dictionaries. Apparently, they are no longer for sale at the $16 price--or at all, it seems. If we find new resources for your refugee students, we'll let you know!

For all home tutors

Catholic Community Services of Utah has posted their Life Skills Manual: Level One online. Click here for a copy. This 62-page manual takes a pictorial approach to nine topics, including hygiene, housekeeping, emergencies, and U.S. laws. Originally developed for use with Somali Bantu refugees, the manual may be of use for other groups that lack familiarity with these cultural aspects of life in the United States. It can also serve as lesson inspiration and a simple textbook for any in-home tutor!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

They're heeeeere

Unless you never avail yourself of any type of news media, you might be unaware of the resurgence of bedbugs. Otherwise, you know the little critters are flourishing worldwide.

Denver has been particularly hard hit. Although bed bugs don't spread disease, they are still significantly unpleasant. The thought of an insect dining on you while sleep is creepy.

There are some things to know about bedbugs:

  • They do not discriminate based on economic status, gender, nationality, age, or attention to housekeeping. They are equal-opportunity pests, and you can pick them up almost anywhere.
  • You should not assume, if facing a bedbug invasion, that you picked them up in someone's home.
  • Unlike roaches, you don't get bedbugs because your house is dirty or you visited someplace that appeared to be unsanitary.
  • Bedbugs do not cause or spread illness.
  • If you are a renter, your landlord cannot hold you responsible for an infestation.
  • There are common-sense precautions you can take to avoid an infestation, but suffering an infestation can happen to anyone.

Bedbugs are travelers. They generally hitch a ride on furniture, clothing, and on international flights. They particularly like to snuggle into the seams of soft-side luggage in hotels and in the cargo hold of airplanes. they also enjoy the warm dark of movie theaters, and lately have been showing up in hospitals, schools, and clothing stores.

Many of the apartment complexes where refugees live have or previously had a bedbug issue. Part of this starts with international travel, but the problem persists because residents haul infested furniture out of the trash. They also don't necessarily report a problem when it happens.

Imagine you lived your entire life in a bamboo hut in the jungle. Having insects cohabitate your living space isn't just a reality--it's inevitable. For someone who has always experienced this as normal, having insects in your Denver apartment isn't going to make you raise an eyebrow. Think about it. In an article in the Denver Post, one exterminator said, "Americans think it's our birthright to live free of vermin," Miller said. "Get over it." In most parts of the world, bugs are just a fact of life, and soon that will be the case here.

So, what can you do to minimize your risk of an infestation?

  • Be aware of the symptoms, from bites to dark spots on upholstered furniture.
  • Don't take your coat with you when you go inside of your student's home. In fact, take only hard-surface items that you can keep in the trunk of your car (I take in only a plastic folder, a book, and a plastic pencil case).
  • Brush off your clothes before getting back in the car or going into your own house.
  • Leave your shoes outside overnight.
  • If you buy anything at a thrift shop, leave it outside in the sun so bedbugs will be coaxed out into the warmth. Then, run everything through a hot cycle in the dryer.
  • If you travel, never put your suitcase on the bed and don't unpack or use hotel drawers. Also, bring a large plastic trash bag to cover your suitcase with when you're staying in a hotel.
  • Don't forget to check the mattress seams for signs of infestation.
  • If you do get bedbugs in your home, you must be diligent about cleaning out the house, bagging and washing everything made of fabric, and employing the services of a good, ethical, and knowledgeable exterminator.

Most people are unaware that prior to the 1950s, bedbugs ran rampant. The introduction of the highly toxic pesticide DDT all but stopped widespread bedbug infestations. Once DDT was banned worldwide, bedbugs were ready for their resurgence. New evidence shows that like cockroaches, bedbugs are genetically adapting to the modern world and have become all but invincible in the face of other pesticides.

Heat and cold are your friends. So far, bedbugs cannot withstand exposure to extreme heat or extreme cold. In a state that often has mild temperatures, this isn't the ideal solution, but any bedbugs clinging to items left in your closed-up car on hot, sunny day will not survive the experience. Likewise, in winter, leave suspect items outside overnight when temperatures are below freezing.

To learn more about the current state of bedbugs in our nation and around the world, please refer to these articles:

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's a whole new year!

Happy New Year!

Please make a note of the following dates when tutors need to report their time spent with their respective students. We need this information so that resettlement agencies, case managers, and our state refugee office are aware of of the activity in this program (trust me, it's important!).

To remind you, any time spent with your student counts toward your monthly total, even if it was a social outing or a trip to the local clinic. Things that don't count: Lesson planning, making calls on your student's behalf, transportation time to and from the student's home.

2011 Reporting Dates
(no later than...)

Month tutoring...Date to report by

  • January time...Monday, February 7
  • February time...Monday, March 7
  • March time...Tuesday, April 5
  • April time...Thursday, May 5
  • May time...Monday, June 6
  • June time...Wednesday, July 6
  • July time...Friday, August 5
  • August time...Tuesday, September 6
  • September time...Wednesday, October 5
  • October time...Monday, November 7
  • November time...Monday, December 5
Please make a note of these dates and please report your tutoring time promptly!
Thank you!!