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Lending a hand

Posted 2:14 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022

Western's Rebecca Hopkins (left) and UWL's Heather Linville (right) unbox learning materials that will support Afghan evacuees learning English as a Second Language.

UWL, Western donate learning materials to support evacuees at Fort McCoy

UW-La Crosse and Western Technical College have joined forces to provide much-needed learning materials for Afghan child evacuees staying at Fort McCoy.

Thanks in part to a donation from National Geographic, UWL and Western are sending hundreds of student workbooks, CDs and DVDs to classrooms on the Army base. The materials are designed to help students learn English as a Second Language (ESL), which will ease their transition into a new country and culture.

“One of the biggest challenges is overcoming trauma,” explains Heather Linville, associate professor of educational studies at UWL. “Anyone who has had to leave their homeland that quickly and immigrate to a new place is going to have some psychological trauma, and that can cause difficulty in learning and readiness to learn another language.”

The new workbooks and learning tools, Linville adds, will give students a strong foundation as they integrate into society and enter the school system.

National Geographic donated books, CDs and DVDs to help with the effort.

Rebecca Hopkins, associate dean at Western, says providing ESL instruction to the community is a key part of the college’s mission. Through a grant, Western was able to send several staff members to lead ESL instruction at Fort McCoy.

“We are honored to have been able to respond quickly, with tremendous Wisconsin Technical College System support, providing an experienced instructional team on base that can be there for the duration,” Hopkins notes. “These materials will be a wonderful addition for consistency in learning.”

This is the latest example of La Crosse’s colleges and universities working together to support newcomers from Afghanistan.

Previous efforts have included drives for toys and school supplies, youth sports camps at Fort McCoy, and a series of panel discussions intended to help the community understand refugee resettlement and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.


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