Bridgewater students in the Personal Development Portfolio program have taken part in community enrichment and awareness for a service-learning project to complete their degree requirements, working with immigrants in the Shenandoah Valley.
In a partnership created by Ben Erickson, instructor of communication studies, and Elizabeth Girvan, executive director of the Skyline Literacy nonprofit organization, students in the program have been interviewing and putting together presentations for Skyline's annual "Thanks for Giving" dinner.
Interviewees are learning English or preparing for the citizen exam, and students ask questions about what they miss from their home countries, what they appreciate most in the United States, and how they've had to adjust. From that, table tents are prepared with photos, and the students put together a slide show to music for the dinner.
Erickson says this is a way for students to connect with people who have different experiences from their own, and that most of the students have little exposure to life outside the Valley. Students expressed amazement at some of the stories they heard.
Skyline Literacy is a nonprofit focused on promotion of literacy, using trained volunteers to offer needs-based instruction to adults who have emigrated to the United States and need assistance learning English or studying for citizenship.