Back Home and Hard at Work

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 mountaintopinterns@gmail.com.

-Katie

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