We’re fast approaching our last two days of this project and we have a lot to show for it. At the end of ten weeks we have created an online book with 31 different sections and six videos that detail the resources and culture in Allentown. This book would not have been possible without the guidance and advice that we received from professionals in both Allentown and Tubingen. Tomorrow we plan to personally thank these people with the unveiling of our website and a celebratory event however there are many of you who will be unable to make it. So to those of you reading this who will not be there tomorrow we would like to say thank you. Thank you for your time and your thoughtfulness. Thank you for bearing with us as we fumbled with poor Wi-Fi and other unforeseen issues. And thank you for giving your time to the community and for working to make Allentown a better place. We know that you don’t hear it nearly enough but you are truly a gift to this city and you are making it a better place.
In every meeting we were asked if this project is going to be maintained or if it is going to fizzle out on July 22nd when our internship is over. We promise that this project will not fizzle out but instead it will grow and expand. I am the President of a club recognized by the Department of State called No Lost Generation and Rebecca is a part of the executive board for this club. Our club plans to take over this project and ensure that it is well maintained and that it expands to other cities within the Lehigh Valley. We look forward to keeping in contact with you and please reach out to us if you need anything. We are happy to give you brochures, postcards and flyers advertising our website and we would love to hear any feedback that you may have.
One of our teammates, Katie Morris, maintains her own blog where she writes about different humanitarian crisis’s taking place around the world. This summer she has been blogging about this internship and the progress that this team has made. Check out her latest blog post!
In Germany we had the opportunity to meet with countless different people who are working to help the refugee’s transition into their lives in Germany. Each person we met with offered us valuable advice that has significantly improved our overall projects. Yet, it was not just our meetings in Germany that have contributed to our project. We have met with numerous Lehigh staff members and community members who have given us their time and thoughts to help us make this project as significant as possible. One of our biggest meetings took place yesterday when we met with some of the staff members at the Newcomer Academy in Allentown.
The Newcomer Academy is a school for students who are new to the area and do not have the language skills necessary to be placed in the public school in their area. The kids who attend the school stay there for one year and are given a tremendous amount of support to help them learn English and advance in their academic studies. The school is nothing short of incredible.
The women we met with have been working with refugees for years and had valuable insight and opinions about our project. They spent over an hour with us talking and reviewing our videos and book sections. From them we learned that our videos and book sections were just not good enough. It was hard to hear but very valuable input. They asked us to simplify our words and to make the book sections more visual. One of their main points of advice was to match the vocabulary with accompanying pictures.
During this project we have spent a long time walking what we consider to be a fine line between simplifying information and oversimplifying information. We wanted to make the information easy to read and understand but we also didn’t want to simplify it so much that it would be considered offensive. We want to respect the intelligence of the people while at the same time acknowledging their struggles to understand the language and the culture of the United States.
In our meeting we learned that although these people are highly intelligent they are still struggling to comprehend the culture and language. So they made the point that it’s okay to simplify our text because it will make it easier for the people to understand and it won’t be considered offensive but actually helpful.
So today we’re back in the digital media center working to create materials that are more comprehensible. We want this project to have a big impact in the community and to significantly improve the transition process for newcomers in Allentown. We’re very grateful for all of the help and advice that we have receive and we can’t wait to share our completed book with everyone in three weeks!
If you or someone you know have any contacts in the community that may be interested in promoting, advertising and sharing our book please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.