Otter Creek Member, Linda Krinks, working with students in ONWARD English classes.

Otter Creek Member, Linda Krinks, working with students in ONWARD English classes.

onward english classes for women

Each Monday and Wednesday morning around 10:15, cars begin arriving at a church building just off of Nolensville Road. Many of the drivers are moms or grandmoms, college students or retirees from Brentwood, Franklin, or Spring Hill. On their way, they stop at apartment complexes in Antioch where eager immigrant and refugee women pile into their cars, chatting in broken English about the weather or the week. They strap in car seats and load up preschoolers for the short drive to the church where English classes will soon begin.

Inside the building, after a great flurry of hugs and greetings, women from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Nepal, and other nations settle in for the hard work of learning to speak a new language. Their drivers are now teachers who guide them through exercises and activities that help them improve their communication skills. Six different classes serve women of differing skill levels. Their preschool children play in an adjacent room with loving caregivers. For many, it is the only time they will be outside their home during the week other than for grocery shopping or doctors appointments. For many, it is the only time to practice English with a native speaker for more than a passing moment. For most, it is a rare opportunity to interact with an American as a friend.

ONWARD English classes serve immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers - women who are struggling to process monumental trauma and transition to a new culture. They are grateful for the safety of their new home but often overwhelmed by the complex and confusing path before them.

Several Otter Creek women, along with volunteers from a handful of other churches, form a corps of supportive, encouraging friends to these brave women who are experiencing heartache and obstacles most of us cannot imagine. As friendships grow, both in and outside of classes, burdens are lightened and the love of Jesus is extended through compassionate listening, practical helps, and praying together.

Won’t you join us? There is always room for drivers, childcare workers and teacher assistants. And there is always room for a budding friendship. Contact Susan Reese at sgkreese@yahoo.com or 615-497-2038.

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