Charlotte Hanson, Woodbine Program Director
As a new program director, I’ve been reflecting on lessons learned these last six months. I’m always evaluating how my students are doing and what they are learning. Perhaps the student learning the most is not one of them, but me. My refugee and immigrant students teach me many lessons. One of those is how to “be in the moment”.
When they enter the classroom, their primary focus is on each other, the teacher, and the lesson being taught. Sometimes, they’ve left a crying child in childcare, or a husband at home who doesn’t support what they’re doing. Sometimes, they’ve left piles of laundry and other household chores needing their attention. Yet, they remain faithful in attendance and strive to learn all they can in that class period.
They practice “ministry of presence”. This quote from theologian Henri Nouwen says it best:”I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”