United Speakers help community immigrants

Imagine joining a culture you know nothing about. The language is strange, the food is bizarre and the rules are different. This is a reality for several immigrants coming into the Kirksville community. United Speakers, an organization determined to help immigrants integrate into our culture, will be receiving a $500 grant from the Foreign Language Association of Missouri to help provide educational supplies and teach English to our growing diverse community.

United Speakers President junior Grace Miller said the organization will be using the grant money to provide transportation to their class in Milan and buy new textbooks to use for English lessons. Miller said United Speakers never had a lot of supplies at their disposal, so being able to buy textbooks and pencils will enhance their lessons.

“I went through our house and found any old ACT books that I could find and collected all the pencils and pens,” Miller said. “So we had this little makeshift box that we were keeping all of our supplies in. Now that we will have pencils and pens and different things like that, it will just be nicer and it won’t be as difficult.”

Miller said United Speakers is a student lead organization focused on bettering the relationship between the immigrant and native populations. Miller said the organization assists immigrants like the large influx of Congolese people by holding English as a second language classes in Kirksville and Milan.

Miller is the new acting president of United Speakers after Senior Megan Kraus left to study abroad. Miller said she wanted the position because no one seemed interested and she wanted the club to continue building a relationship with immigrants. She said volunteering will help her learn and is a step in the right direction for her future in healthcare.  

Miller said she and other United Speakers members stayed up several nights during finals week last semester to write the grant. She said the grant couldn’t have been successful without the help of the many staff members volunteering to support United Speakers, like French professor Audrey Viguier, who has been acting as an adviser to the organization.

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Sept. 27.