WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 03, 2011, 10:13 AM

Local Rotarians help refugees master English

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Members of the local Rotary groups in town has launched a unique project that is changing how quickly New Americans master English. We have all seen TV ads for the computer language program called Rosetta Stone. Now, local Rotarians are volunteering their evenings with refugees. A gesture that's life-changing.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

When they arrived in Fargo from their tiny land locked country of Bhutan two years ago. These Bhutanese left behind a government that was harsh and oppressive. So looking for freedom, 500 came here.

HEATHER RANCK - Rotary Member: “Language is critical element to all things in a culture. Without language you cannot get a job, read a report card, shopping or get directions.”

Every week, Rotary volunteers like Heather Rank help teach the adults computer and language skills. Simple things like e-mail.

“You can click reply.”

Using the Rosetta Stone Language System, the Bhutanese and other refugees are mastering English. It will finally allow these parents to understand their children’s teachers, know more about letter grades and homework, and school discipline.

BARB WEBER - Carl Ben Assistant Principal: “Te parents are like sponges, wanting to learn English wanting to participate in their kids' lives.”

And at the Central African Union on Fargo's Main Avenue, one computer with Rosetta Stone will help new Americans with their new language.

“It takes about 720 hours to learn an easy language.”

For the refugees, it means a better understanding not just of our language, but the culture. For the Rotarians, it is a chance to learn more about our community's newest members. 43-volunteers from 4 local Rotary clubs are taking part in the project.