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LCORE Volunteers Spotlight: Liana, Mary Beth, Sharon and Francia


Meet some of our LCORE volunteers, Liana, Mary Beth, Sharon and Francia! These volunteers have been working with our LCORE team to help teach English classes and help update curriculum for the different levels of classes offered to clients at Exodus! We are very grateful for all their hard work and have spotlighted them individually below.

Liana Meeker: Liana works as a library assistant at the Indianapolis Public Library. She first learned about Exodus when she did an internship with us in summer 2020. Liana helped Exodus when the LCORE team was first shifting English classes online during COVID. Liana remembers how amazed how much staff had already done to pivot online. Since her time as an intern, Liana has continued as a volunteer, helping to be a substitute English teacher, conducts assessments and onboarding to English classes, as a conversation partner to a Congolese client, and with some of the curriculum revision.

One of her favorite memories from teaching English classes was going over body parts in a lower-level class by singing heads, shoulders, knees, and toes. It was a lot of fun, and everyone was giggling, resulting in a nice moment of community. Then at the very end of class, students translated the song into their own language and shared with each other.

Liana also worked briefly as a contractor when Exodus was welcoming evacuees from Afghanistan by helping to set up Wi-Fi in their homes. It was very impactful to visit clients in their new homes and see the hospitality they extended was a meaningful experience.

Overall Liana feels fortunate to be a part of the work Exodus does. She says her life has been enriched by the clients she has taught and is encouraged by how the staff and volunteers collaborate towards achieving self-sufficiency for all clients. She has found a real sense of community in her time at Exodus. Liana encourages everyone who is thinking about volunteering to go for it, the time is worth it for the connections you can build.

Thank you Liana for all of your work in volunteering with our LCORE program!

Mary Beth Riner: Mary Beth is a retired Nurse and professor at the IU School of Nursing. When she was working, she would take students on study abroad trips to learn about healthcare in other countries. She knew when she retired, she wanted to stay connected to the international community in Indianapolis, and her church had previously volunteered with Exodus, as well as some of her former students.

Mary Beth started as a volunteer in 2019 teaching in-person English classes and helped the LCORE team transition to online classes in 2020. While there were some challenges to transition to teaching online, being online helps make sure all students can participate. It is always fun when students turn on their camera and she can see everyone, and fun to see some children who are too young to be in school pop onscreen and want to join in too.

Mary Beth has been helping to update curriculum for the level 2 classes, mainly working on the lessons that cover health material, and plans to start on level 3 soon, which is the level she teaches two days a week. She likes to teach more than once a week because it gives her a chance to get to know the students.

Volunteering at Exodus has had a strong impact on Mary Beth because it has helped keep her aware of the refugee resettlement system, and she values being a part of a welcoming community. One thing Mary Beth has seen is how hard refugees work to learn a new language and culture, which can be difficult for anyone, but particularly in the context of being forced to flee for their own safety.

Thank you Mary Beth for all of your work volunteering with our LCORE program!

Sharon Boller: Sharon first learned about Exodus in 2015, when her church helped to resettle a Sudanese family with Exodus. Sharon was involved in helping them learn English and saw how teaching clients English is one of the most important skills clients need to become self-sufficient. She has a background in education and curriculum development, and when she retired a little over a year ago, she began volunteering at Exodus.

Sharon asked the LCORE team if she could adapt some of the curriculum to be better suited to an online classroom, and began working on doing the work herself, and was happy to connect with other volunteers in this project. Sharon’s favorite part of teaching is seeing the light bulb moments for students when they really grasp a lesson. She encourages and supports students in finding opportunities and wants to see them achieve self-sufficiency.

Sharon was also involved with a Community Support Team who worked with a family from Afghanistan, and worked with the dad to help him prepare for a job interview and find an opportunity at a car dealership since he had been auto mechanic previously. It is all about seeing clients succeed and persist. Their determination is inspiring.

Sharon has been truly stuck through her volunteer experiences that despite coming from different cultures and countries, we are all the same. The laughter when playing games and growing together in learning moments in class reminds her of spending time with her own family. She feels her time spent volunteering is a way of doing small “big” things. Volunteering at Exodus means that while she cannot help every refugee in the world, she is still able to make a difference in teaching English to refugees in Indianapolis.

Thank you Sharon for all of your work volunteering with our LCORE program!

Francia Kissel: Francia is a retired English professor from IUPUI and started volunteering with Exodus in 2020 when she retired. Francia had previously brought classes in to volunteer at Exodus as part of their service-learning communities and wanted to delve into volunteering more regularly once she retired. Francia has a granddaughter from Congo and was interested in learning more about Congolese culture and working with people from the DRC, which represents a large population of clients Exodus resettles.

Francia began as a volunteer teaching English classes online in 2020. She has worked on updating the curriculum and lesson plans, adapting them to be better suited to the online classroom format. She joined Sharon in this project, who said Francia brought a new energy to the efforts and is helping updates go faster. They have started with the lower levels of English, and plan to work their way up through the 4 levels of English classes Exodus offers. Francia has also volunteered as a tutor to help with individualized support with English skills, and with one client in particular as they work to get their US citizenship.

One of the things Francia has found through her volunteer experience is the joy and sense of community she finds with students. She loves seeing how interested students are in learning English, but also in learning each other’s languages too. Teaching English as to clients has inspired Francia to do some additional education herself in teaching English to non-native English speakers.

Thank you to Francia for all of your work volunteering with our LCORE program!