Refugees seeking a better life in Charlotte can find the acclimation process challenging, experts say.
An upcoming free event hopes to make the process easier for refugees and organizations that help them.
CPCC is teaming with the Charlotte chapter of Social Venture Partners to offer a free event, “International Charlotte: Welcoming Refugees” at CPCC’s Pease Auditorium March 26.
Central Piedmont Community College offers education to refugees as part of its English as a Second Language Department and an orientation program.
Social Ventures Partners is a nonprofit that works to strengthen communities. According to its mission statement, “SVP cultivates effective philanthropists, strengthens nonprofits, and invests in collaborative solutions – building powerful relationships that tackle our community’s social challenges.”
The event will teach the public about Charlotte’s refugees, their experiences and how to support and welcome Charlotte’s international community. There will be a panel discussion and questions and answers with community leaders, organizations that help refugees and refugees who moved to region.
At the event, there will be a short video about the lengthy and complex immigration process, which involves governmental agencies. Attendees also will receive a list of local organizations that provide assistance to Charlotte’s refugees and a list of what each group needs in case anyone wants to help.
Marianne Lyall-Knusel is CPCC’s senior program coordinator for Adult ESL and has helped organize the event. Her work with refugees dates to 2003, when CPCC partnered with Catholic Charities and Lyall-Knusel coordinated the ESL classes.
“Once you get involved, you don’t want to walk away,” she said.
She also said CPCC brings the ESL classes to the areas where there are high refugee populations, making the education more accessible to more people. They hold classes in apartment basements, churches and community centers belonging to partner agencies.
Although CPCC helps refugees learn English, that is not the only goal.
“Our goal is to help refugees engage in a career pathway that takes them beyond learning English, to also develop new jobs skills leading to family-sustaining employment,” Lyall-Knusel said.
She also said many of the refugees continue their education and go on to college.
Allison Futterman is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Allison? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to go?
“International Charlotte: Welcoming Refugees” will be 6-7:30 p.m. March 26 at Central Piedmont Community College’s Pease Auditorium, with a reception to follow. Parking is free at the theater parking deck on Fourth Street. For questions, contact Marianne.Lyall.Knusel@cpcc.edu. To RSVP, go to www.cpcc.edu/ccr/events/welcoming-refugees