Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Your vote matters!

"It's a major award!"
The Emily Griffith Foundation was presented a check for $15,000 this week from the Hyatt Regency hotel.  The check was awarded to the school’s Work Intensive Skills Camp (WISC), a refugee job-training program that, for six years, has partnered with the Hyatt Regency to help newly-arrived refugees in Denver secure employment in the hospitality industry.

Work Intensive Skills Camp instructor, Kate Goodspeed and student,
Rup Neupane accept a check for $15,000
In addition to Hyatt, the program partners with businesses like The Brown Palace, Curtis Hotel and Denver Athletic Club, but this is the first time that one of the partnering companies has financially supported the EGTC program.

Vote. Give. Thrive.
In addition to the $15,000 award, Emily Griffith Foundation has the opportunity to receive additional funds as part of Hyatt’s Vote. Give. Thrive. contest in which anyone can view and vote for a video of the Work Intensive Skills Camp’s partnership with the Hyatt Regency. 

Now through December 31, Emily Griffith Foundation will be competing with organizations throughout the world in this contest. Individuals can vote on Hyatt’s Facebook page. The non-profit with the most votes will receive an additional $10,000, and the second and third place organizations will each receive an additional $5,000. Visit Facebook.com/Hyatt for more details. You can vote once a day through December 31.

“The Hyatt Regency was our first community partner,” said Kate Goodspeed, instructor for the Work Intensive Skills Camp. “In 6 years, we’ve had over 320 students job shadow at Hyatt Hotels and many have been hired.  We are very grateful and excited that they successfully nominated us for the Hyatt Thrive grant.” 

This year the Emily Griffith Foundation is one of 26 non-profits worldwide to receive funding from Hyatt Hotel.  In 2012, Hyatt Hotels awarded more than $300,000 in grants to non-profits in communities where Hyatt hotels operate. The funding is a key component of Hyatt Thrive – Hyatt’s global corporate responsibility platform which encourages hotels around the world to identify and nominate local nonprofits for funding consideration through the Hyatt Hotels Foundation. The program builds on Hyatt’s belief that nobody understands a community’s most pressing issues – and their solutions – better than those that live and work there.   Hyatt Thrive encourages hotel associates to guide charitable giving in support of local organizations and  efforts to further economic development.

Work Intensive Skills Camp was developed because of a need to provide more job-training resources for refugees with low levels of English. In the 2012 fiscal year, Work Intensive Skills Camp trained more than 130 refugees for jobs in Colorado.  The program focuses on industry driven demands of the workforce and trains individuals through hands-on skills and classroom instruction.  Individuals in the program come from countries like Somalia, Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan, Ethiopia and Iraq. 

Learn about Tibetan Buddhism

A discussion about Tibetan Buddhism
Thursday, December 6, 2012
3:30-5:00 p.m.
Emily Griffith Technical College
1250 Welton St., Room 123
This presentation is free and open to the public. 

Join us on Thursday, December 6 for a presentation about Tibetan Buddhism. The presenter, Yungdrung Gyeltsen, is Buddhist monk who fled Tibet 26 years ago. Yungdrung, who holds a Ph.D. in Tibetan Philosophy, currently lives in Denver and studies English at Emily Griffith Technical College.

In addition to being a student, Yungdrung is passionate about helping others understand Tibetan culture and the philosophies and beliefs behind Tibetan Buddhism. You may remember him from a video produced by DPStv earlier this year. His story is compelling.

Refugee Profile: Tibetan monk from DPStv on Vimeo.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Online inspiration

One of the most common questions we get here at Home tutoring Central is, "What should I teach my student? Where can I start?"

What you teach and where you start are largely dependent on what your student already knows and what language she or he feels is most relevant at the moment. In the tutor training sessions, we generate a list of topics that work for students at any level. If you're looking for more inspiration or an idea of what to include ina lesson, there are literally thousands of websites created for ESL teachers and students.

One that you might find helpful is English Language World. The site is ad-supported and has ads embedded in the lesson flow, so be careful where you click. In addition to being an inspiration generator for teachers, the site is a good self-study tool if your student has Internet access. The site offers lessons for all levels, from very beginning to advanced, and includes practical, every day language that students need.

Most lessons have audio clips modeling correct pronunciation. Lessons build up in complexity and are self-correcting. the site also includes a "Teacher's Lounge" that offers more activities.

Give English Language World a try the next time you're trying to think of what to include in a lesson. It's free!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teej Festival

The Global Bhutanese Community of Colorado will commemorate the Hindu Teej Festival honoring Bhutanese and Nepalese women, and you are invited!

This festival takes place worldwide, including here in Colorado. According to Wikipedia,

"Dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva, the festival is celebrated for marital bliss, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. The festival is a three-day-long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting. 

Falling on the Hindu month of Bhadrapada or Bhado (August/September), it also celebrates the arrival of monsoon after a season of oppressive heat. The festival gets its name from ‘Teej,’ a small red insect that comes out of the soil during rains."
You can join in the celebration this year. Come to celebrate this auspicious occasion with a full day of joy and togetherness. This cultural celebration is open to anyone who wishes to participate and learn more about the Bhutanese members of our community.

Copyright Boston Globe

Teej Festival
Thursday, September 20, 2012
10: a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Lowry Park
11th Ave. and Dayton St., Aurora


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Be part of the peacemaking community

Community College of Aurora’s Global Initiatives Committee and the ESL Department are pleased to invite you to our upcoming lecture on "Post 9/11 Religion and Community: Interfaith Strategies for Peacemaking," This event is open to the public.

Thursday September 6th
6:15-7:15 p.m. 
Community College of Aurora
 Rotunda, Student Center building
Room 100 
16000 East CentreTech Parkway, Aurora, Colorado

"When the planes flew into the skyscrapers on 9/11, Dan Buttry was the co-pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dearborn, Michigan—home to the largest Arab Muslim population in North America. The next evening, Dan joined a group of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders at a Dearborn mosque to ask what they might do together as religious communities. Thus began Dan’s journey as an interfaith peacemaker."

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Buttry is currently the global consultant for peace and justice with International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches, working on short-term peace projects around the world. He is also the author of several books, including Blessed are the Peacemakers and Interfaith Heroes 1 & 2. Learn more about his work at www.danbuttry.com.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Get out of town! Or not.

Are you looking for an interesting day trip to enjoy with your student? For students with very little English, a museum visit or historical site outing may not have much meaning since so much the experience is explained through language (docents, placards, audio guides).

Many of the refugees we work with don't have access to transportation and know very little about the area beyond what they see in their own neighborhoods or on the bus. Colorado is a beautiful state and most newcomers are eager to see it! Consider a day trip that shows off some of what makes this state so special.

Pack a picnic lunch and your camera, and don't forget car seats or boosters if the kids are coming along for the ride. It's always a good idea to bring a jacket when you head into the mountains, no matter what the weather is doing in Denver.

Mount Evans

Matt Inden/Miles via Colorado.com
Located in Clear Creek County, Mount Evans is the closest fourteener to Denver and also boasts the highest paved road in the country. The mountain tops out at 14, 265 feet. Mount Evans is about 50 miles from Denver by way of Idaho Springs.The fee for parking and using the facilities is $10 per car (up to 12 passengers).

Although there are no picnic tables on the Mount Evans road, there are some beautiful places to stop along the way. Click here for a list. While you're on Mount Evans, don't miss the M. Walter Pesman wildflower trail at Mount Goliath. The trail is maintained by Denver Botanic Gardens. Click here for information about guided wildflower hikes through August 4, 2012. If you still have time, visit Echo Lake Park on your way down the mountain. Note: On Saturday, July 21, Mount Evans road will be closed until 2:00 p.m. for a bicycle race.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The road to Rocky can be very crowded on summer weekends, so leave early--or schedule a weekday trip. The park is about a 90-minute drive from Denver. The entry fee to the park is $20 per car and your pass is good for one week.The park is huge and offers many excellent hiking and picnic spots. Stop at one of the ranger stations for advice on where to find the easier trails.

This summer there is major construction on Bear Lake Rd., the main thoroughfare to popular Bear Lake and handicap-accessible Sprague Lake. Shuttle buses are mandatory on part of that route, unless you get through before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. For details on the construction and closures, click here. As an alternative, consider visiting different parts of RMNP that don't require use of Bear Lake Road. Most visitors to the park enter through the Beaver Meadows entrance, but you can also enter the park south of Estes Park at Lily Lake, or on the west side at Grand Lake. There is a lot to do and see at RMNP. Click here and check out the menu on the left side of the page.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak/ Sharon McCreary 2010
Located in Colorado Springs in the shadow of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods is a unique and beautiful sandstone fantasy. Many trails are paved and most are easy to navigate (no hiking skills required). The views are breathtaking.

Start your day at the visitor center, pick up a map, and then head over to the park. Plan to picnic in the park since there is no place to consume your own food at the visitor center (although it does sport a nice cafe, if you're willing to buy lunch). The park is open daily until 8:00 p.m. in summer and admission is free. The visitor center is located at 1805 N. 30th (at Gateway Rd.) in Colorado Springs. Click here for directions. The park is open from 8-8 daily in the summer.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

A bit closer to home is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMANWR). The refuge is located just a bit northeast of Denver, yet it provides some of the finest wildlife viewing around. At more than 15,000 acres in size, this national wildlife refuge is one of the largest in the United States. Bring your binoculars and watch for birds, raptors, deer, bison, and any of the more than 300 species of wildlife in the refuge. The refuge is a peaceful place to walk and enjoy nature, but there are educational programs available, as well. Stop by the visitor center for interactive exhibits. Be aware that guided activities within the refuge are free but require a reservation.

The RMANWR is located at 6550 Gateway Rd. in Commerce city. Entrance to the refuge is free. The refuge is open seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except for federal holidays. The visitor center (closed Mondays) is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. For more information and to get a copy of the latest newsletter, click here to visit the RMANWR website.

A Taste of Colorado

For nearly 30 years, the "Festival of Mountain and Plain" has capped off Denver summers. This free, four-day event takes place every year during Labor Day weekend in Civic Center Park at Colfax and Broadway, downtown. The event includes arts and crafts vendors, educational displays, a KidsZone, great people watching, lots of music, free concerts, and a lot of food!

You won't be able to bring in a picnic lunch, so budget for food or eat before you go. Parking can be tricky, but there are many pay lots around the festival, including the Justice Center Garage (where Emily Griffith employees park) on Delaware St., between 13th and 14th Avenues. Plan to spend a fun day! For more information about this year's event and the entertainment schedule, visit the event website.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head!

The monsoon season has arrived in Denver! It's the time of year when a long stretch of dry, dusty days are suddenly punctuated by daily downpours. This weather pattern lasts for much of the month of July.

Many of our refugee students are familiar with similar seasonal rains, but not how they translate to an urban environment. Each year, a number of Americans are injured or drown in urban flash floods. Now is a good time to explain to your student the basic physics of storm drains and the suction power they can generate.

This morning, an extremely heavy rainstorm poured a deluge of water on downtown Denver. Traffic was snarled and, because the storm drains in the streets were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water, many streets flooded. The photo taken above was taken this morning during that storm. It's Welton Street just off of Colfax, between the Convention Center and Emily Griffith Technical College. The water was about thigh-high on an average-sized adult (as gauged by watching a woman wade across 12th St.).

The water was gone within 90 minutes. That's millions of gallons of water being sucked into storm drains very quickly. What many of the refugees don't understand is how strong that suction really is. It's important to let your students know how to manage urban flash floods:
  • If your student drives, the general rule of thumb is not to drive into water deeper than six inches
  • Do not wade into the water to cross the street. If you can't see your feet, go another way. If the water is more than shin-deep, it's dangerous and can easily cause a fall.
  • Do not walk near or through the water rushing into storm drains at the curb.
  • Keep children close. Do not allow children to play in the water or near storm drains. Some of the larger drains--in culverts, for example--can easily suck in a child (or adult) very quickly. There are many instances of Coloradans who have died this way!
  • Tread carefully. The mix of debris, oils, and plastic swept up in the water can make for slippery conditions. If you have to walk through it, rinse off your skin once you're inside.
  •  Remove shoes and give them time to dry thoroughly before wearing them again.
Monsoon storms can come up very quickly and it's easy to underestimate how much water is moving off of the streets. Several years ago, I was caught in a downpour while riding my bike home from work. I was on the Cherry Creek bike path downtown. Within a matter of minutes, the creek started rising rapidly. Soon after, I couldn't see if the bike's wheels were on the path or headed into the creek. There was no place for me to exit for several blocks so I just kept riding as fast as I could. I was unexpectedly pounded by a jet of water that nearly knocked me off of my bike. The path is below street level, and serves as a drainage point for the runoff. This water is channeled into large, circular holes in the walls along the path, and the pressure is immense. I was looking down as I was riding, so I never saw the blast of water coming out the wall that was about to hit me (and it's filthy). I was fortunate not to have fallen and been swept into the creek's current.

When I got home from that ride, I turned on the TV news to see that five people had to be rescued from the path only thirty minutes after I had ridden through. Some of those people were hanging from tree branches and others were clinging to the iron bridge supports that hold up the overpasses. The usually docile Cherry Creek was nearly ten feet deep and the current was raging! The really surprising thing was just how fast that happened.

On a related note, Colorado has the second-highest incidence of lightning in the U.S. (Florida is number one). According to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management (COEM), lightning has killed or injured more people in Colorado than any other thunderstorm hazard. Make sure your students know that when lightning is present, they must seek shelter. Describe what is and is not considered safe shelter. This is particularly important if you know your student has a field trip planned to open space or the mountains, where most lightning-caused deaths occur. For a safety checklist, click here for information. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors! Additional information from NOAA regarding Colorado lightning safety can be found here.

 Stay safe, stay dry, and be smart!

Friday, May 11, 2012

We need Saturday volunteers!


We're recruiting again for volunteers to help with teaching our Saturday morning refugee ESL class at Grace Apartments during June, July, and August! Might you have an interest? It’s such a great way to get involved and to make a difference, to join a vibrant community, and to feel like you’re living internationally even in your own backyard! 
Grace Apartments is located on the corner of 13th Avenue and Yosemite Street, on the east side of Denver, just north of Lowry (8888 E. 13th Ave.). Class is in session on Saturday mornings from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. 

We have been successfully holding classes for the past seven years, with regular attendance at around 20 women per week.  Some weeks we’ve taught all of the ladies together with one lead teacher.  An ideal week has us working with as many as four volunteers, which gives us the flexibility to separate into four smaller groups:

  • Beginning
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced (small group; will meet in the office area)
  • Children (someone mostly to quietly read with the youth)

 If you’d like to volunteer this summer, let us know:

  • specific dates you’re free;
  • which group(s) you'd be most comfortable with;
  • whether you’re comfortable leading a group on your own or if you want to partner with another volunteer who has more experience;
  • whether you have experience teaching esl (though it’s not necessary!)
  • your primary hopes for your participation;
  • whether you’d be interested in receiving training through Emily Griffith Opportunity School’s at home refugee ESL program;
  • any other info you think important to share;
  • any questions you’ve got; 
  • Your cell number and best email contact.

We are still coordinating curriculum for the summer, though are planning to cover these topics:
  • Beginning of May: Community, including bank/post
  • Mid-May: Transportation (2 weeks), incorporating some actual stuff on RTD/schedules
  • June: Describing, with the focus on descriptions of summer, clothes, weather, things to do, etc.
  • July: Recreation and Entertainment
  • August: Back to School
Please tell us your availability for the summer by next Friday, May 18, if feasible.  Also, if you’re not able to commit at this time but decide later on that you’d like to drop in and help out, we’re happy to work with you and your schedule!
Kindly send all responses to Elena at Maria_Saenz@dpsk12.org

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Looking for a change of pace in your volunteering?

Many refugee families in the Denver area live in homes that are part of Mercy Housing's community of empowerment and compassion. Grace Apartments, located at at the corner of 13th Avenue and Yosemite Street, is home to many refugee families, and as summer approaches, they could benefit from your skills.

Volunteers and interns support the mission of Mercy Housing by providing one-on-one attention to residents, offering classes and contributing to activities which enrich the lives of the people who call Mercy Housing their home.  

 Grace Apartments is recruiting Summer 2012 (June-August 2012) volunteers and interns to support the following:  
  • Adult & Family Services: Classroom Assistant: Assist instructors with adult one-on-one ESL-based learning and/or childcare  
  • Newsletter Editor: Manage a multi-lingual newsletter of programming announcements and resident contributions,which promotes sharing and community engagement  
  • Computer Room Assistant/Instructor: Hold lab hours and promote technology to adult and youth population  
  • Marketplace Manager: Coordinate in-kind on-site thrift store & support Grace Dollars incentive program  
  • Gardening Assistant: Accompany DUG volunteer and community gardeners in related initiatives
  • Direct Services Assistant: Establish relationships with residents to assist with service referrals/benefits acquisition   
 Youth Services (ages 7-12):  
  • Youth Soccer Coordinator/Coach: Lead and/or support summer soccer team, ages 12 and up
  • Summer Program Activities Assistant: Assist and/or develop indoor/outdoor youth programming
  • Swimming Club Assistant: Lead youth on fieldtrips to local pool for swimming instruction and practice
  • Garden Club Assistant: Sponsor youth gardening activities and related training opportunities 
Thank you for your interest in our joining our community! Volunteer and internship placements are developed to meet the schedules and interests of each individual. Please contact Grace Apartments to schedule volunteer groups or special events.  

Sierra Hutchinson, Resident Services Coordinator II
Grace Apartments
8888 E 13th Ave #13
Denver, CO 80220
Phone: 303-320-7763
Fax: 303-399-5906 Email: shutchinson@mercyhousing.org

Monday, April 2, 2012

Resources to help you learn

In addition to the bibliography that new volunteers receive at training, a more comprehensive list of resources is maintained to help you learn about refugees and their experiences. Project SOAR, part of the International Rescue Committee, updates the list monthly. This list is a collection of books, articles, and films with links to find out more about each resource.

Click here to access the list.

Learn about human trafficking


Please join the Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC) at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, for a week of events dedicated to generating community awareness of forced labor and human trafficking.

Monday, April 2, 12:00-2:00 pm – Panel of local anti-trafficking experts, moderated by Ron Soodalter, co-author ofThe Slave Next Door, in the Cyber Café of Cherrington Hall, 2201 S. Gaylord St.

Tuesday, April 3, 5:30-7:00 pm – “A Blight on the Nation: Human Trafficking in Today’s America,” a talk by Ron Soodalter, co-author of The Slave Next Door, in Room 150 Sié Che´ou-Kang Center, Denver, CO 80205.

Wednesday, April 4, 6:00-8:00 pm – Screening of the film “My Grandma’s Tattoos” in Sturm Hall 251, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO 80205.

Thursday, April 5, 9:00-11:00 pm – Abolition concert with live local bands at Illegal Pete’s, 1744 E. Evans Ave.

Friday, April 6, 6:00-9:00 pm – Silent art auction at CORE New Art Space at 900 Santa Fe Drive in Santa Fe Arts District.

Training opportunity


The Literacy Coalition of Colorado

Volunteer Training

For new and returning volunteers

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Workshops begin at 8:30 am

Focus Point Family Resource Center

2501 East 48th Avenue

Denver, CO 80216

Schedule and Details To Be Announced Later