Last January’s Winter Study course, Resettling Refugees and Immigrants in Maine, drew both a record number of students and an appropriate headline in the local press. The supervisor, Jeff Thaler ’74, himself a veteran of Robert Gaudino’s pioneering Williams-at-Home program four decades ago, provided this sundown of his latest class of students:
- Erica Lansberg’14 lived with an Ethiopian family with 3 host sisters, and worked as a teacher aide at Lincoln Middle School with a number of classes of students learning English, computer and math skills.
- Won-Jun Kuk’14 lived with a Cambodian family and a host brother. He worked with a social worker at the Community Counseling Center in its mental health program focused on immigrant and refugee patients.
- Sam Lewis’15 lived with a Burundian family and three host siblings. He worked with doctors and nurses at the Portland Community Health Clinic, a new program providing health care to low-income residents of Portland, many of whom are refugees and immigrants.
- Sophia Rosenfeld’15 lived with a Sudanese family and three host siblings, while working at a Portland High School in a variety of classroom settings with students from all over the world.
- Lauren Nevin’15 lived with a Somali mother and her three children, who also hosted Williams students the previous four years. Lauren worked as a teachers’ aide at Reiche Elementary School, a teacher-run school with a very diverse student body.
- Caroline Bruno’15 lived with a Somali mother and her three children while working at Portland High School in ESL and other classes as a teacher aide.
- Joseph Aduboffour’15 lived with a Rwandan family while working at Casco Bay High School in science, ESL and other classes, also as a teaching assistant.
- Iman Lipumba’14 lived with a Sudanese mother and five siblings, while assisting teachers at Casco Bay High, another school with a multicultural range of students.
- Melissa Soule’15 lived with a Rwandan family while also working at Casco Bay High School in a variety of classrooms with immigrant and refugee students.
All of the students wrote reflective essays before the program on how forces such as race, ethnicity, national identity and socioeconomic class had impacted their lives up to that point in addition to keeping a journal during the program. The students met regularly with Thaler and his fellow instructor Heather Foran ’04, to discuss and reflect on their experiences. The class participated in several community events, including a host family potluck, and submitted a closing essay reflecting on how the program had changed their views since they wrote their opening essay. The students also met with the Gaudino Board last April to summarize their experiences and answer questions, an event covered by the Williams Record. The course will be offered to 7 students next year in January 2014.