Bethny came to Indy Reads after having fled oppression and a lack of opportunities in her native Burma. Her father came to America first, and worked hard to bring Bethny and her five brothers and sisters afterward. Together, the family has struggled through learning cultural differences and being “outsiders” in the United States.
Bethny made the decision to enroll at Indy Reads because she wanted to acclimate faster. She wanted to not just join in the workforce but to be a leader for her family and the community of Burmese immigrants and refugees in Indianapolis. Student Navigator Chris Simmons says she’s done all that and more.
“She’s a hard working young lady,” says Chris. “She always has a look of joy about her. She’s worked with IndyPendence Job Corps and is working part-time in retail to provide for herself and her family.”
Beyond her busy work schedule, she has been indispensable in the classroom. She helped teachers and other staff with translating for other Burmese students, and provided a wealth of information about Burmese culture that helped guide interactions.
“Burmese police do not have mercy,” Bethny says. “They take what they want; they kill people because the person did not provide them what they were looking for.” Understandably, Burmese students may be fearful of people in positions of authority, or be resistant to speaking up in class.
“Bethny brings a competitiveness and problem-solving ability to the classroom,” says Cindy, Bethny’s teacher. “She’s a performer — she plays instruments and sings — and she brings her experiences at work to class to help the other students.”
“Indy reads has given me conversational English,” Bethny says. “My English improved and I can use better grammar. The teachers are patient and want me to learn as much as I can.” The skills she’s gained while at Indy Reads have helped Bethny to graduate from IndyPendence Job Corps, and she’s making deeper connections at work as she’s learning to read, write, and speak English more proficiently.
And, family always on her mind, she takes schoolwork and lessons home to share with her brothers, sisters, and her hard-working father. We’re grateful to have Bethny in our Indy Reads family, as well.
Indy Reads is proud to partner with IndyGo to support students in the Community Classrooms program. Watch for more student stories in each month’s newsletter, and catch Routes 19, 38, or 39 to visit Indy Reads at the Central Library, or Routes 11 or 21 to visit Indy Reads Books! All route and trip information is available at indygo.net.