Dear friends,

On behalf of all my ECDC colleagues, I wanted to thank you all for the driving support that you have provided to Nada & Sohaila who both have a lot to celebrate.

Nada arrived–brilliant at math and science, but with only a few words in English. But thanks to the support of Brattleboro Union High School, Linda Hay and several of you, Nada found the confidence and support to excel and graduate at BUHS WITH HONORS! She is exploring possibilities at Greenfield Community College to continue to improve her academic English before she transfers to study astronomy and robotics at one of her dream schools like M.I.T. Nada wanted to record and share a speech about her experience with a message for fellow graduates. I highly recommend that you give it a listen:

Sohaila is also pursuing her dreams of higher education. After much back-and-forth with ECDC and SIT colleagues, we have both been able to offer her the opportunities that she deserves to pursue her passions in education and leadership!

Sohaila applied and was offered a scholarship for SIT’s 2-year Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management. Sohaila also has the option to audit a few days of classes this summer, while she continues to improve her academic English with the help of Linda and other volunteers and colleagues. In the meantime, Sohaila is already using her skills for intercultural service, leadership & management! Sohaila is working for ECDC as our Refugee Leadership Coordinator — providing newcomers with the information and resources that they need to self-organize their own activities so that they can teach and have fun with each other while finding ways to generate additional community connections and income. Sohaila has already organized the Art Team, including Meetra and the other ArtLords who move in with each other in the next few weeks. Last week, Sohaila organized the first meeting of Afghans and volunteers working together on a sewing team. Plus she’s discussing other options for teams on Halal Meat, Gardening and Cooking…

We at ECDC are so proud of Nada and Sohaila and the accomplishment of all our young people, especially the young women who are continuing their dreams of studying and working to pursue their passions.

Now for my request: Over the past few months, the focus has been on drivers, as these young women needed volunteer drivers. Over the summer, we are working with the VT Department of Labor on the possibility of offering summer drivers’ classes. However, the Department of Labor has told us that they are unlikely to have enough instructors to offer in-the-car driving practice. Both Nada and Sohaila are eager learners and would like to try to get their driver’s licenses by the end of the summer, before their studies begin. We at ECDC are asking around for volunteers for so many of our newcomers, many of whom need to drive in order to get to their work and drive around their families.

Would you consider or ask around about anyone who could volunteer to offer driving practice to Nada and Sohaila once they are ready? If you are able to offer a few hours of support–or know someone who could–then please let me or Sohaila know. You can also advertise this volunteering need within the UU Community and I can do any additional required background check.

Thank you again and I hope that you find a moment to celebrate Nada’s graduation this weekend!

All the best,