East Portland Refugees from the Union of Myanmar Seek Literacy Volunteers to Support their Path to US Citizenship

June/July 2016 and continuing in Fall 2016
Janell Lee Pic
We are seeking volunteers interested in the following volunteer roles for summer & continuing in the fall (no need to sign up for both):

  • Literacy tutors: Volunteers will work with 1-3 community members, mostly elders, to develop their ability to read and write Roman letters and numbers (including name, address, children’s names, street names in PDX, etc.)  Sessions meet June 10 – July 15 (6 weeks – 12-24 hrs).            Fridays 6:00 – 8:00 DMA Office 117 & Division and     {(opt) Fridays 3:00-5:00 Midland Library}
  • Reading group participant: Volunteers will participate in a reading group with an instructor and up to 6-8 community members studying Civics. (June 20 – July 29, 1 x week for 6 weeks – 9 hours plus). Tuesdays 6:00-8:00 DMA office at 117 & Division
  • Technical support: Volunteers will install USCIS Civics APPS on tablets and phones for community members, and duplicate and copy audio files and CDs. (Action dates: flexible)

Myanma in Portland

  • Myanma are hardworking communities, their children attend our Portland schools, their men and women work in Portland’s factories, restaurants, businesses and social service agencies.
  • These communities have a compelling desire to become United States Citizens, and yet the road from illiteracy and little to no schooling— to fluency in English— is a long one. 

About Union of Myanmar Communities
Five different ethnic groups from the Union of Myanmar are currently living in East Portland. They are Zomi, Karen, Karenni, Burmese, and Rohynga, and they are Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim.

These refugee communities have been coming to the United States since 2008, and live in more than 10 US states.  The first arrivals came mostly from Thailand, where many had lived in refugee camps for 10 or more years; more recently, new arrivals are coming from Malaysia, where they have lived and worked in urban environments.

These communities come from Burma – a country in SE Asia (south of China, east of Thailand, and west of India) ruled by a vicious military dictatorship from 1962 to, arguably, 2012, when the first democratic elections in 50 years occurred.  The country is now called Myanmar, a country whose boundaries were created for the purposes of the British Empire, rather than those of the over 135 different native peoples living on the land. 

About the Project
This literacy, civic education and leadership program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement through the East Portland Neighborhood Office Small Grants Program.  The Division-Midway Alliance is serving as fiscal sponsor and donating meeting space. Other partners include the Multnomah County Library, and People, Places, Things.


To Volunteer:

Contact Janell Lee:  janelllee1@comcast.net 503 740 0059

Please include the volunteer role you are interested in, any relevant experience and your availability in June and July.   

No experience necessary – but must be able to commit to the entire 6 week session (except techies!).

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