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Tag: ESL

REPOST: Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media)

President Barack Obama’s announcement today reminded me of this article I wrote about a year ago, documenting suburban Chicagoan Jesse Oxford’s efforts to start “a media-driven, culture-shaping movement seeking to inspire and mobilize young evangelical Christians towards championing the needs of immigrants.” It’s called “UN-Documented,” and you can watch a short video, choose an experience and join the conversation about it on Oxford’s website, UnDocumented.tv.

No matter what your opinion on immigration policy, or the Obama administration’s plan to not deport some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, it’s worth watching, experiencing and conversing about how that fits into how the Bible says we ought to love “the foreigner” (see Zechariah 7:10).

ELGIN — When David Miller glanced at his hand resting on the steering wheel of his car, it made him think twice.

The black, inky stamp on the back of his hand said “UN,” as in UN-documented, and it was part of an experience called “Become the Stranger” he organized at Judson University last week.

That experience asked participants to put themselves in the shoes of an undocumented immigrant for a day. They were to leave their identification at home and wear the stamp, both to encourage them to think about what that would mean and others to ask questions.

If he really were undocumented, Miller thought, would he risk driving over the speed limit, getting pulled over for speeding, being found without the proper documentation to be in the country?

Taking notes in class at Judson, the Algonquin resident glanced at his hands moving across the keyboard of his laptop.

If he really were undocumented, would he be able to afford that computer? He could have been a businessman in another country — but here, without documentation, he could be working as a “laborer,” he said.

“It makes me thankful for what I have. It’s so easy to take for granted,” Miller said.

“You grow up in Algonquin, you don’t think about this. I went to Dundee-Crown (in Carpentersville), but I was in band and all honors classes. It never occurred to me there are people walking in the hallways who are dealing with this.”

At the end of the day, he said, it made him frustrated more than anything: He had hoped the experience would spark conversation, but he had passed out only about 30 stamps to other students interested in participating. Only two people had asked him about the stamp on his hand. Nobody cared, he said.

That’s an experience an undocumented immigrant can relate to, said Jesse Oxford of East Dundee.

Oxford, who created the “Become the Stranger” experience around his eight-minute documentary “A New Dream,” pointed to a statistic from the Billy Graham Center: Less than one in 10 immigrants ever will be welcomed into the home of an American.

“That is an experience we are actually trying to change,” Oxford said.

For the rest of the story, read Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media).

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Beholding Glory

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I have tasted the future…

…And it is delicious!

Joel and I were part three of a past-present-future-themed progressive dinner party for our fellow River City ESL volunteers this weekend. Which meant we were tasked with creating futuristic desserts and serving them in our very vintage first apartment, furnished almost entirely with pieces we’ve found in thrift stores, alleyways and parents’ basements.

We looked to Adriano Zumbo’s futuristic creations at The Star in Sydney, the amuse-bouches at The Aviary in Chicago and 1960’s sci-fi (about as modern as we were going to get our apartment to look) for inspiration. The desserts of the future, we decided, will be neon-colored, geometrically-shaped and individually-sized.

Here’s the menu we came up with from that:

  1. Joel and I go overboard with food — not so much the decorations. He wrapped the TV and some cardboard “serving platters” in tin foil, and I played muted episodes of “Star Trek: The Original Series” to the soundtrack of this futuristic Spotify playlist I built around Sufjan Stevens’ album “The Age of Adz.” We also filled vases and Mason jars with the weirdest flowers we could find, sitting in water we’d squeezed neon-colored highlighter ink into, which does not actually glow in the dark, as I was led to believe. It still looks really cool.
  2. Soju-soaked watermelon with custard and cilantro filling, inspired by The AviaryThai-style creme caramel desserts (recipe, via About.com).
  3. Creamy lime squares (recipe, via Eat, Live, Run).
  4. Cake eggs, inspired by The Cupcake Project.
  5. This is what I mean by “cake eggs.”
  6. The Future Fashioned. Really, just an Old Fashioned with a chunk of dry ice thrown in for futuristic effect.
  7. The Buzz Aldrin (recipe, via Brooks Bilson).
  8. Not pictured: Fruit tart, adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Molten lava cakes, adapted from “Lunch in Paris,” with some red Pop Rocks thrown on top for popping lava action.

On hospitality…

Joel and I both love offering hospitality. We both love having people over and talking to them and cooking for them and showing them weird movies and making them feel at home in our home. After the past and present parties this weekend, though, I was starting to feel a little insecure. Both were in clean, newly-rehabbed apartment buildings. Our apartment building dates back to the 1880’s and hasn’t been very well maintained. The linoleum is peeling up in the bathroom, and there always seems to be a thin layer of dirt over everything, no matter how often I clean.

But then, our guests arrived. And when one of them settled into the rocking chair in our living room Saturday night, a third-generation hand-me-down from a friend, he said, “It just feels really good in here.”

That’s the point of hospitality. And that’s where it differs from “entertaining.” That’s what I’ve learned so far in the first chapter of “A Life that Says Welcome” by Karen Ehman.

Ehman is in the third and final week of an online hospitality study based on her book. Naturally, I stumbled across this late last week and just am joining now, although it appears, thanks to a hold-up on the book being available in stores, I am not the only one. Ehman has promised “lots of grace.”

Today’s video blog in the online hospitality study from guest Renee Swope reinforced that lesson about hospitality I learned this weekend. Maybe it’s something you need to read today, too:

“God often used that to challenge me to look beyond what I had to offer physically or materially to really just what I had to offer from my heart, and He really stretched me and just showed me it’s not about how big your house is or how much food you serve. It’s about making a welcome place, a warm place where people feel comfortable.”

Click photos to embiggen.

U46 motions judge to decide part of racial discrimination case (Sun-Times Media)

U46 motions judge to decide part of racial discrimination case (Sun-Times Media)

U46’s gifted program defended at discrimination trial (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — Rachael Jackson, a bilingual gifted specialist in Elgin School District U46 for the past 10 years, said if the district ended its gifted program for Spanish-speaking students, “I would cry.”

“The students need the support,” Jackson said. “They need to be in a place where they feel safe, where they feel confident, where they’re with other kids like them.”

That program is one of several under fire in the racial discrimination trial against U46 in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Phases two and three of the lawsuit, which began last fall, allege the state’s second-largest school district did not offer appropriate help to English Language Learner students. They also claim it did not offer students who were black or Hispanic access to gifted and advanced programs.

Phase one, argued a year ago, alleges U46 discriminated against black and Hispanic students by placing them in overcrowded schools in its 2004 school boundary plan.

Much of the testimony this week has been about the school district’s School Within A School and Spanish English Transition School Within A School programs.

SWAS is its gifted program from elementary and middle school students. SET SWAS is its gifted program taught in both English and Spanish for students who either still qualify for services from the district’s ELL program or recently exited the program, meaning they are considered proficient in English.

Judge Robert W. Gettleman questioned why students considered proficient in English would be placed SET SWAS.

U46’s gifted program defended at discrimination trial (Sun-Times Media)