West Jordan family welcomes refugees
Mar 29, 2017 10:49AM
By Bryan Scott
Amy Beaumont (center) teaches English to refugees twice per week. She said, "You don't need any kind of teaching degree to teach English with this program—just a desire to help." (Amy Beaumont)
By Natalie Conforto | [email protected]
Leylo (name has been changed) is from Somalia. She arrived here three months ago with her six children under the age of 14, and they are still waiting for her husband to get permission to come. While she struggles to learn English and navigate school for her children, she is sending over any money she earns from her custodial job to her husband so he can join them in the US.
Leylo is one of the 1,150 refugees the United Way estimates arrives in Utah every year. After waiting in refugee camps for years, the lucky few are able to travel to the United States, often becoming separated from family members.
For mother and son, Amy and Trevor Beaumont of West Jordan, saying they want to do something to help these refugees is more than just lip service. They found a way to give valuable assistance, and they are doing it regularly.
Trevor and Amy each spend five to seven hours per week teaching English classes to people who have recently arrived in the United States who must learn English in order to work and provide for themselves and their families. English language skills—skills the Beaumonts already possess without even thinking about it—are vital skills that will empower refugees to make their way in their new surroundings.
Amy had been searching for ways to help refugees for months while listening to daily BBC news stories about their plight. Trevor witnessed thousands of Eastern European refugees fleeing to Hungary, where he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and said he wished he could help them as he passed them in train stations and saw nobility and kindness among them. He said he surmised that they had no control over their situation and were only seeking a better life, as any American would do.
Once he was back home, Trevor resolved to do something. He found the English Skills Learning Center in Salt Lake City, which provides free English lessons in many areas throughout the city. Classes are offered at various times during the week, so he knew he could find teaching times that would work with his schedule. He and his mother signed up with the ESLC, completed the 12-hour training and got to work.
“You don’t need any kind of teaching degree to teach English with this program—just a desire to help,” Amy said, adding that the ESLC provides all the training and materials needed.
Trevor said he never has to bring up grammar points like nouns, verbs and adjectives, because “many of these refugees do not have an educational background. Trying to teach the function of the parts of speech in the English language would be ineffective, seeing that they may not understand it in their own language. The most important qualification to be a volunteer is to be able to speak English.”
Trevor teaches an English Life Skills class at a school near his home, and Amy teaches an intermediate English course at an apartment complex. Each class meets twice per week for 90 minutes, plus about 45 minutes of prep time for the teachers. Both Beaumonts said they feel the effort is worth their time and enriches their own lives.
“I love it,” Amy said. “I know what I am doing is important, and it is making a difference.”
Trevor feels that although he doesn’t earn any money for teaching, he is being well paid.
“The biggest reward for volunteering is happiness,” he said. “I full-heartedly believe that true happiness is not found while focusing on ourselves but rather while focusing on others.”
Both Beaumonts have connected with the individuals in their classes. They found that the students are earnest and eager learners—of English and anything they can learn to make life better for their families. Trevor said he is impressed by the positivity many of the refugees exude after enduring so much hardship.
Both teachers have found that their lessons are filled with laughter, joking and goodwill between students of many nationalities who are all trying to integrate into American culture and apply for citizenship.
“Seeing their dedication and efforts, and their love for our country makes me want to be a better person and a better American.” Amy said.
Trevor and Amy’s classes are made up of people from Africa, Venezuela, Iran, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Burma and Pakistan.
The Beaumonts shared some of their students’ stories.
“I have a student who is one of the most hard-working and selfless people I have met,” Trevor said. “He has been in America for six months. He is married with no kids, and his wife lives here with him. He wakes up and gets going every morning at 4:00. He works a full-time job and on top of that he volunteers every day at a kitchen for homeless people. He is very friendly with everyone and just always expresses love to others. He’s really an incredible person.”
Another student lives with relatives while her husband and children remain in her home country. She has been here for 10 months and is always hoping and praying that her family will be able to join her here. She’s a proud mother and is always talking about her kids; one is a software engineer, and the other is a university student.
“You can tell by talking with her how much her life revolves around her family and how much she misses them,” Trevor said. “She Skypes with them daily.”
Amy is glad for the chance to help these refugees.
“They are such good people,” she said. “Some of them have had really hard lives, but they are so positive and so loving. They work really hard.”
The English Skills Learning Center offers several training sessions throughout the year. Go to eslcenter.org to get involved.