DES MOINES, Iowa – Lutheran Services Iowa is looking for additional help in its refugee tutoring program.
LSI Refugee Education Coordinator John Windheuser said the program has 10 volunteer tutors for over 400 refugee students looking to learn English.
“We have a lot of students who are interested, but right now just not enough tutors to match them up with,” Windheuser said.
There are three different classes refugees can take to learn English. The first is community classes that are Monday through Thursday. The second is one-on-one tutoring and the third is a citizenship class.
“Our building is right on a bus line, we offer childcare, we offer classes at all different times throughout the day. We try to meet students where they are at,” Windheuser said.
In addition, there are classes on Saturday and Sunday.
Windheuser said people who volunteer to tutor do not need an education background.
“We provide trainings for people and we try to lift them up to the point to where they are able to help students achieve their goals,” Windheuser said.
Tutor Mary Hedberg started helping refugees learn how to speak English seven years ago.
“All we do is start 'what is your name?' Believe me that is one of the hardest questions you are going to ask them. They have no idea. I mean what we are saying,” Hedberg said.
Refugees will learn the basics like days of the week, numbers, the alphabet and simple sentences.
“Our whole goal here, I’m a firm believer in this, is if you can make these people here feel welcome and loved and laugh you’ve got it made,” Hedberg said.
Hedberg has taught 10 refugees how to speak English while with LSI.
If interested in volunteer tutoring call 515-271-7411 or go online.