Immigrants learn to adapt in Kansas

In southwestern Kansas, Garden City Community College is educating and assimilating students from all over the world, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The sprawling Tyson Foods meat-packing plant a few miles outside of town is among the largest in the world, according to Steve Quackenbush, the college’s information-services director, and for decades it’s been a magnet for immigrants — first from Mexico, then from Vietnam after the fall of the regime in the south, now from Myanmar and Somalia. More than half of the city’s 30,000 residents are minority-group members, and the college — founded in 1919 as a traditional junior college — offers an array of services for people who grew up speaking a language other than English and may arrive in Garden City having no idea of how to drive a car or shop in a Walmart.

Linda Miller, the college’s English as a Second Language coordinator, said some of the college’s adult students had never been in a school before, much less attended college. Nonetheless, she told me, immigrants from Myanmar sometimes arrive in Garden City knowing the name of a college faculty member who helped a relative or friend.

Some students have earned degrees overseas, while others are migrant workers seeking to learn to read.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON December 1, 2010

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