Profile: Julie Glossenger
“Learning the language is the key for [Syrian refugees] to obtain so many other things in our society, such as getting a job, being able to drive, and being able to advocate for yourself,” Julie Glossenger, English tutor and wife of CHS History teacher Daniel Glossenger, said.
Enabling her students to partake in the various aspects of American society is one of the many rewards of teaching English to Syrian refugees that Glossenger has discovered since first volunteering in late February.
Glossenger, an elementary school art teacher, originally got involved with tutoring to volunteer her time to a meaningful cause.
“I hoped that by meeting and working directly with Syrian refugees that I could put faces to whatever Syrian means and develop relationships with them, and then I wanted to be able to share my positive relationships and experiences with other people,” Glossenger said.
Through this mentality, Glossenger has helped her students navigate through their new country. Recently, one of her students passed her driver’s test, a nearly unimaginable feat to some Syrian refugees who have just arrived in the US.
“When you hear news like that you’re just over the moon. She’ll be testing for her Michigan English Competency exam this Wednesday, and I’m just thinking about it constantly when she’s doing that,” Glossenger said.
Still, Glossenger faces challenges when teaching English. To overcome the language barrier, Glossenger uses Google Translate to communicate with her students. Although this system can have faults, it accomplishes the important task of basic communication.
Emotionally, Glossenger struggles with grasping the challenges her students face on a daily basis.
“I think that it has been difficult to process watching them work through what it means to be a citizen, and also trying to function in American society: how to rent property, how to learn English, and show your proficiency in something when you can’t speak the language,” said Glossenger.
Ultimately, however, the reward of developing a relationship with her students outweighs any struggles Glossenger may face through tutoring. “Everybody who I have met in that community is just so hospitable and so friendly and they’ll give everything that they have, just by their nature, so all of that has been a really great experience, and I’m happy to continue doing it.”