The New Year began with great news for the Shrewsbury Public Library. We heard that we had procured a $4,000 discretionary grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation for the English Conversation Circle program. This is the fourth year the Library has been offering the program and the second year in a row that the Library has been the recipient of a GWCF grant. We are grateful to the Greater Worcester Community Foundation for the funds that will help us sustain this very popular program through 2014.
The free English Conversation Circle program is for adult learners who wish to practice speaking English in a safe environment. There are four sessions a week – two for beginners and two for intermediate learners and they are facilitated by experienced and dedicated teachers. It is a forum for new immigrants to meet people, make friends, learn about American culture, and share stories about their own culture. Participating in the Conversation Circle helps them acclimate to American society; gain confidence to go to school and pursue formal training; seek employment; and go on to become productive members of the community. As Katherine Johnson, one of the facilitators, says, “The English Conversation Circle serves as one of the most important--perhaps even the most vital--functions for those who are new to our country. As our new residents become confident in using English, they are able to bound into the worlds of friendship, commerce, driving, and securing solid employment.”
Immigrants from different parts of the world, who have settled in Shrewsbury and the surrounding towns, have attended the Conversation Circle. We have had China, India, Japan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Syria represented. Folks from Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Belgium, Italy, Russia and Romania have also participated in the Conversation Circle. Lea Hench, facilitator, opines that “Our English Conversation Circles provides a place for people to make connections while they become more comfortable speaking. I've seen the friendships that have developed and the advice given that's made a difference in the lives of the participants. Often we're a jumping off point to where they're going, and that's good too. Whatever it is that makes adjusting to our country and culture easier is a gift we share with our newcomers.”
Anyone interested in joining the conversation can call the Library at 508-842-0081x2 or x3 to sign up for the classes. The schedule for the classes is as follows:
Beginner’s class – Thursdays – 5-6 PM; Saturdays – 10:30-11:30 AM
Intermediate class – Tuesdays – 2-3 PM; Wednesdays – 5-6 PM
The spring session will begin the first week of March.