Summer CSGC Grant Update: Youth ESL Lessons

Hello! My name is Fev and this summer I ran a CSGC grant funded project for my charity/project called CSTEP. The goal of CSTEP is to “provide a safe, inclusive, and informed space for ESL learners of all ages”, particularly focused on children of all ages. CSTEP is very much informed by my own experience as a first-generation immigrant facing cultural and language barriers as my family and I moved to a new country and I have been able to counter these through initiatives such as free one-on-one lessons, conducting book drives, running summer programs, and advocacy for ESL immigrant/refugee learners through CSTEP. I have been particularly privileged and fortunate to be able to advocate for my community through charities such as Save The Children due to my role as a member of the national Youth Advisory Board there.

This particular grant funded a program that I ran which involved free Saturday classes for Ukrainian refugee children over a period of two months in the local area where I live in Cheltenham, England. For context, since the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, countless Ukrainian families, including children have been forced to flee their homeland. They have immigrated to countries all over the world including the United Kingdom, which has welcomed 161,400 Ukrainian refugees. Over 500 households welcomed more than 1000 Ukrainians in Gloucestershire, England and schools were preparing to welcome over 1,000 schoolchildren in September 2022. Despite government efforts through programs such as The Bell Foundation, there are simply not enough resources for the number of children coming in to the public education system. The success of the children in particular, both in school and in finding a place of belonging, heavily relies on their ability to understand and be understood when they communicate in English. My goal with my program was to try to combat this problem by helping children in my local community. I was able to promote this project through local charities that are doing amazing work, such as Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees, GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers), Gloucestershire County Council (Cheltenham Library), as well as local Facebook groups and more. The program was successful and I was able to teach a group ranging three to eight children over a period of five weeks, with almost all attending very consistently. I was able to use the grant money to buy arts and crafts supplies, school supplies for the program and the school year, lots of books, and snacks for the children. I have also been able to use the momentum I got from CSTEP to significantly expand my one-to-one tutoring program, run multiple book drives, and continue raising awareness of the challenges ESL learners face in the education system in England.

Over the summer, as a result of this project and other teaching I have done, I have had the opportunity to work on my teaching and lesson planning skills, even reaching out for advice to the wonderful adults who helped me along my own ESL journey when I was much younger. I have been deeply humbled by the opportunity to connect with the local community in this way and I am very grateful for this experience. I am looking forward to continuing to expand CSTEP in the UK and beyond, as I continue to work on my tutoring program and other projects.

I would like to once again extend my deepest gratitude to the CSGC and Earle Mendillo for allowing me to pursue this project — it truly would not have been possible without you.

-Fev ’24¬†