Hope, love…such simple words to us. Our All Souls ESL team experienced a much deeper meaning of these words in a recent class.
We are working with a Syrian refugee family of five – father, mother, daughter (12), son (11), and son (7) to teach basic English skills. They arrived in Tulsa after spending 10 years in neighboring Jordan, the last 3 or 4 years in a tent camp.
After their being inundated with the English language since arrival, I thought we should turn the tables and give our family a chance to express themselves in their native language, which is Arabic. Through our English/Arabic translator I asked the question, “What do you like about living in Tulsa?”
Appropriately, the 7-year-old son said, “the trampolines.” He had been playing on one thanks to a volunteer’s generosity. The 11-year-old son loved the drive-throughs where “I was handed a drink or some food through the car window.” The 12-year-old daughter liked the ability to go to one store and “get everything on our list.” In Jordan and Syria, people go to the souk where products are unique to each vendor.
Then the mother spoke. She shared about the “love we have received from you (All Souls people). We have never experienced this before.”
The father, who had requested to be last, began with just one word—”Hope.” He had never felt hope for his young family like he did now.
Thanks to our All Souls Refugee Team, we have provided security, support, and most of all hope for our Syrian family.
Ros Elder is a long time member of All Souls. After 27 years as a proud public school special education teacher, she retired and established Total Pilates Studio in Brookside. Shortly after teaching retirement, she volunteered with the Tulsa City County Library System as tutor in the Literacy/ESL program. She was recruited to teach the volunteer tutors in the program. At All Souls, Ros is a member of the ACTION Core Team and a part of Welcoming Souls.
The All Souls ESL team has 8 volunteers who are working together for our refugee program.