What could be more frustrating than to want a job but not know how to go about getting one? For immigrants at the Asian Association Center, 28 E. 2100 South, Pat Horsley helps provide the missing information.
Horsley volunteers weekly at the Asian Center working with immigrants whohave different levels of skills.Some immigrants are barely conversant in English and are struggling through the ESL (English as a second language) program. Others are attending one of the three legalization classes held daily at the Asian Center, preparing to obtain permanent residency. Still others are ready for a job search.
Horsley began volunteering more than two years ago by going to the homes of Laotians who needed help. The bishop of her LDS ward was reaching out to the immigrants who had moved into the area. "I loved it," Horsley said. But the numbers of people needing help soon made teaching more practical at the Asian Center, so Horsley began volunteering there each Monday.
"What they wanted me to teach was comprehension," Horsley said. "The immigrants know what a job is but just don't know how to get it."
While most of the refugees Horsley teaches are Laotian or Vietnamese, she also has worked with Koreans, Peruvians, Chinese and Tongans.
The refugees must attend 40 hours of schooling to apply for permanent residency. Then they must live in the United States for five years without any arrests. "They must learn about the Spanish American War, the Civil War and the two World Wars," Horsley said. "We teach them about the government, Congress and the House of Representatives, what they do and how they function. We also teach them about people like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Graham Bell."
The obstacles that must be overcome can be overwhelming. "Just think," Horsley said. "They don't use our alphabet, eat our food or dress like we do. They're from a different society; it's almost like a different world.
"These people are smart but they've been abused, so they really appreciate everything we do for them," Horsley said.
The Asian Center always needs volunteers to help with classes. "It does't hurt anyone to give a half day or an evening - we have Monday and Wednesday night classes. The smaller the group the better; we need more volunteers," she said.