When CNN selected Florence Phillips of the USA as the “Hero”, she said that she did all the translations for them (immigrants). She had observed them struggling in a new country especially because they did not know the language.
Background of Florence Phillips
Florence Phillips parents were Jewish settled in New York City, the USA. Her family had moved to the USA to escape from the Holocaust. Since her early childhood, she had first-hand experience of struggling for not knowing American English. Hence, she learned the language while attending school. Soon, she became the interpreter for her parents who learned to interact with the American society. Also, she earned from several desk-jobs. In her late 50s, Florence Phillips joined Peace Corps. She taught English and built community in Kenya, Guatemala and Jamaica.
In 1999, Phillips returned to the US and became an AmeriCorps volunteer and toured the US. Ultimately, she settled in Carson City, Nevada. She was stunned to find people, especially immigrants, living adjacent to her backyard not knowing English. This prompted Florence to start teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Further, she created a Non Government Organisation (NGO) called “In-Home Program of Northern Nevada”. This NGO provides free ESL lessons, training for the US citizenship, GED and computer classes. This organisation has been helping over 5,000 immigrants and families since 2004.
Inspiring Florence Phillips
Even at age 87, the most energetic and active Florence Phillips train immigrants ESL. Most immigrants cannot avail school/college courses offered during fixed schedules. Some have to work three jobs to support family while others have to take care of family.
The In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, NGO, provides ESL lessons to students at no cost. There are no rigid schedules for the course-work so students can attend them at their convenience. Courses are taught from morning, noon, evening and night, weekends and holidays. This NGO teaches all standards of English so students can select what they wish to study. The personal touch provided to every student is taught by a matching teacher. People living far away can also avail facilities from home or tutor’s home.
Florence Phillips is well-known for providing free courses for passing the citizenship test that many Americans fail. This test enquires about different branches of government and senators of the USA. Also, there are questions on history, civics, and government of the US. In addition, candidates are required to know how to read and write in American English. Additionally, they have to converse in English with the interviewer. Hence, Phillips and her team teaches all candidates for citizenship test giving them mock interviews at the end of the classes such that students are aware of what to expect in the actual exam. Class takes 12 weeks and individuals have to memorise a lot. The price to apply for citizenship costs over $700, an amount most students cannot pay. Hence, Florence Phillips helps in raising the amount through charity. Some students work on more than one job. Yet, they always find time to study regularly for the citizenship test because they are determined.
Positive Feedbacks and Motivations of Florence Phillips
Teaching is pleasurable and when students share positive feedbacks, there is nothing more inspiring. Many of Florence Phillips students have been promoted to supervisor level. There are some who report they spoke in English with their child’s teacher. While there are some students mention the clerks understood them when they spoke in English in the marketplace. Florence Phillips has shared the most motivating observation – Her students love the USA. They are proud of living in the US, speaking the American English and soaking in the culture. Best of all is when they mention the line “I am an American” especially after succeeding in the citizenship test.
The inspiring idea of creating In-Home Program, NGO in Northern Nevada, the USA, came from Florence Phillips. Yet, she needs donation to provide free coaching in ESL and citizenship test. Why not visit her website at “ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada” and help her as a tutor or otherwise.
Written By: Hetal Kabra