Click here to see the story…. And a big thank you to Seth Albaum, who made this happen!
Here is a story written by Gordon College student, Stephanie Goethner about the GORP program which NAC students attended on April 16. Be sure to check out “Our Faces” page for more pictures!
GORP Challenges Lynn Students to Try New Things
“Holy cow!” “That looks scary.” “Look how high that is, I’m not going up there.” These were some of the echoes of the New American Center students as they arrived to the ropes course one frigid, April, Saturday morning. Despite the cold, by the end of the day, the students changed to yelling words of encouragement to their friends up in the trees.
The New American Center, a coalition of seven different non-profits serving the refugee and immigrant population of Lynn, MA, spent a day in the GORP program at Gordon College’s ropes course. They were nervous coming with numerous cultural and language barriers. Through trust building and encouragement, the students were able to challenge themselves and have a great time in the process.
“The students were expecting a cold, boring day in the woods with no iPods or Internet and were terrified of being up so high,” said chaperone Farah Ahmad. “But after explaining the amount of support one climber needs on the ground in order to succeed in the air, they decided to try it. Now, they are more confident to challenge themselves and to try new things.”
GORP stands for the “Gordon Outdoor Recreation Project” and designs challenge course experiences and adventure learning opportunities for youth and young adult programs. Through games, goal-setting, trust-building, initiatives and low-ropes course, high ropes course, and debriefing and reflection, GORP encourages team building and challenge by choice.
“GORP gives individuals a task that can only be completed by working together,” said Matt Dischinger, small group leader for GORP. “Being confronted by a daunting challenge forces people to look past the self and rely on others. It was a great day with the New American Center. They came with an open mind, ready to have fun and learn.”
GORP is an affiliate program of the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education at Gordon College, Wenham, MA. For 40 years, the La Vida Center has offered quality programs for churches, schools, businesses, and youth organizations in New England and beyond. These unique programs provide experiential education and adventure learning to foster character formation and leadership development to prepare youth for life.
The New American Center through the Eyes of a Refugee
By Evangeline Shepard
April 26, 2011
Zuruf Basher has lived in three different countries and came to America as a refugee. He was born in Sudan and lived there for about six years until war forced his family to go to Ethiopia. Because his family knew America would give Basher a better chance to receive a good education, they sent him with his step-mother and brother to Lynn in 2005.
It was difficult at first for Basher to find other Ethiopians or Sudanese in Lynn. One day in 2006, though, he saw a man sitting down at in the Lynn Commons. Basher had a strong feeling this man was from some part of Africa, and as he rode by, the man called out to him.
“Come here,” the man said in Arabic, and Basher excitedly went over and talked to him. The man turned out to be James Modi, the director of the Southern Sudanese Solidarity Organization (SSSO), part of the New American Center (NAC) in Lynn. He told Basher all about the various and free programs that were offered to refugee youth like him.
Basher wanted to learn better English in order to improve in school, so he decided he had nothing to lose and attended the after-school programs at the NAC.
“To be honest, I did not like NAC at first because I was shy,” Basher said, “But I remembered that I was not going there because I knew people, I was going to get assistance with my English speaking and writing. I started making friends later, and then I really felt at home at the New American Center.”
Before Basher came to the US, he always thought that there were only white Americans living there. He really enjoyed the diversity that existed at NAC. While he was there he met Russians and Bosnians, other Sudanese and Ethiopians, Latin Americans, and others.
“I liked everything about NAC in general,” Basher said. “I liked meeting new people, but I also liked learning things about computers. In Ethiopia I was too young to take a computer training class, and there were volunteers at NAC that come to teach us how to do many different things.”
The NAC helped Basher excel at high school and he graduated in 2009. He is now a sophomore at North Shore Community College and studies liberal arts. In his spare time, he works at the SSSO as a case worker. Modi, who he met that day in the Commons, is now his boss.
At SSSO, Basher mainly serves as a translator for Arabic-speaking refugees. Basher and Modi have developed a strong and almost father-son bond over the years, and he encourages Basher always to keep his mind on education. In the small tribe Basher comes from, very few are educated, and Basher feels lucky to be one of those few.
“In the small tribe I am from, there aren’t many people that have gone to school,” Basher said, “I am blessed that I listened to my father to get educated and let my step-mother bring us to America!”
Here is a video from Lynn’s Daily Item:
Searching for articles about New American Center, I came across a few that are a year or more old. This is why we need to get more out there about the NAC!