GPTC’s adult education division prepares to help Afghan refugees – On Common Ground News



CLARKSTON, GA – The footage from Afghanistan has been poignant. Thousands of people are desperately trying to find seats on planes and helicopters to escape the violent domination of the Taliban. Many of those who managed to escape are on their way not only to Georgia, but also to what is known as the country’s most diverse square mile – Clarkston. In this community is the DeKalb campus of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, a vital partner in the provision of services to refugees.

Georgia Piedmont is the only school that receives federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (through the Georgia Department of Human Services) to provide English lessons to these people. Over 20 courses are offered at various times at no cost to the refugee (s). The massive evacuation from Afghanistan means that the number of refugees served will likely increase exponentially in the weeks and months to come.

“Part of the mission of the Adult Education Division of the GPTC is to offer English classes and serve people who have little or no understanding of the English language. This is the norm, ”said Dr Meghan McBride, vice president of adult education at the GPTC. “But providing these services to what may be hundreds of people due to a violent uprising in their home country is another story. Many of them are fleeing their country with nothing more than clothes on their backs. “

Leila Murphy is an ESL teacher at Georgia Piedmont. Originally from Papua New Guinea, English is also his second language. Between his online and face-to-face classes, Murphy has around 86 students, including 38 refugees. Of those registered, about 50 are actively participating.

“I try to build small bridges by connecting what they know to what we learn in class. I like to empower them by offering them classes that meet their needs at a level they understand and are comfortable with, ”said Murphy. “My students are so eager to learn that their commitment to attending the classes and following the program is incredible! We provide flexibility that allows them to take care of their families while attending classes. I have had conversations where my students have expressed their deep gratitude to each of the teachers who have helped them learn and master English, a new skill or provide guidance towards a program that meets a greater need. . It means so much to them.

People like Sayed Sadat, 33, have found safe haven in the ESL classroom. While Sadat has been in the United States for three years, his family is still scattered throughout the Middle East. He has a sister in Tajikistan, a brother in Pakistan, as well as two sisters, their families and his mother in Afghanistan.

“I am afraid for all of them – especially my sisters and my mother,” Sadat said. “The Taliban came through my sister’s house in Afghanistan and broke everything. They left the mess and I fear for their safety.

In his native Afghanistan, Sadat was a trader. Here, he travels 51 miles one way to work in a warehouse and attends evening ESL classes in Georgia Piedmont. He hopes to one day go to college in the United States and work as a mechanic.

To help people like Sadat and others acclimatize to life in the United States, Georgia Piedmont partners with agencies such as the International Rescue Committee, Inspiritus, New American Pathways, and the Center for Pan Asian Community. Services. For more information on English courses for refugees, contact Reception Manager LaQuisha Poole at, ESL / EL Civics Coordinator Angela Towner at or Educational Coordinator at Adult Education Mary Baxter at

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