English as a Second Language Program
Corpus Christi Parish Stone Mountain, Georgia
Sept. 2016: Unfortunately the parish has had to temporarily suspend this program. We are hopeful that it will be reestablished within the next year.
Corpus Christi Parish is home to a large refugee population from as many as 12 countries. In fact, the community has received more than 16,000 refugees in the last 10 years. In order to meet the needs of this population, the parish started an English as a Second Language (ESL) Program to help recently arrived refugees learn English and American customs while providing them with an opportunity to connect and form bonds with the community.
The program began several years ago after members of the parish refugee community requested ESL classes to supplement the offerings already available to them elsewhere. Several retired educators in the parish agreed to lend their talents to the project and develop a curriculum to use in the classes.
Between 10 and 20 adult refugees from African and Asian countries attend the classes, which meet for an hour and a half every Sunday from September to May. Because the classes are intended to supplement existing courses, they focus on conversational skills and help refugees navigate day-to-day situations. Several volunteer teachers and classroom assistants run the classes, and they encourage students to bring questions about situations they have encountered in their everyday lives.
The classes meet at the parish, and the program provides child care for students while they are in class. Refugees who do not have personal vehicles also are provided transportation to class by the parish’s Refugee Transportation Program to ensure that all those in need can access these classes.
Given that 23% of Corpus Christi residents live below the poverty line, and 16% receive supplemental assistance to feed their families, programs that increase employability—like this ESL program—are especially important.