Imagine moving to a country where everything is unfamiliar, including the language. All around you are people who seem to have every cultural norm dialed in.
Aware of the obstacles that new Americans face on a daily basis, Mackenzie Lindquist ’15, Minnetonka, Minn., developed a program that would help them with at least one aspect of their new lives: English.
She started her project, “A New ERA: English for Refugee Adults” after receiving one of six Phillips Scholarship, an award granted through the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC).
The Phillips Scholarship helps students implement projects that benefit their communities. The $16,500 award is allotted over a two-year period during students’ junior and senior years.
Meeting throughout the week, Lindquist leads a group of adults in experiential learning to improve their English speaking and listening skills.
“The whole point of the program is to blend the community a little more and socialize the refugee and new American adults,” Lindquist says. “Often times they don’t have many friends or are more isolated, so this is an easy way to get out and meet new people.”
In July, Lindquist introduced some of her participants to the Red River Valley Fair. For Carlina Castro, a mother of three originally from the Philippines, it was the first time attending such a spectacle.
Castro and her family moved from Chicago to Fargo-Moorhead because of her husband’s work. Although Chicago had plenty of opportunities for new Americans, “A New ERA” was among the few programs Castro found after the move, Lindquist says.
Lindquist is confident that her project will give new Americans more confidence as they become more ingrained in their community.
“It’s been a really good morale boost,” she says.
Lindquist isn’t the only Cobber to don the Phillips Scholar title.
In March, Samantha Adank ’16, Fargo, N.D., also received the Phillips Scholarship, making her the second Cobber in two years to be honored with the award.
Adank will put her project, “Growing from the STEM,” into motion next summer. Right now she envisions a weeklong program where middle school-aged girls can attend classes and learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the core topics of STEM.
Karen Lee, associate director of financial aid at Concordia, was part of the selection committee for Lindquist and Adank’s applications. She says their ideas were unique and met previously unaddressed needs in Minnesota.
“They were both very passionate about their projects and what they wanted to do,” Lee says. “They seemed to be very organized and have a real vision for what they wanted to accomplish for their project.”
Since the Phillips Scholars Program began in 1994, more than 100 students have received the award funded by the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.