CLINTON — The local Hate Has No Home Here group is brainstorming areas of need that international students may require now that local governments have entered into agreements regarding a proposal for the former Ashford University campus.
During a meeting Tuesday, Dennis Lauver, from Howes & Jefferies Realtors, said he moved to Clinton in 1999, and eventually adopted a Korean baby boy. He told the group how welcoming he thought the community was then, and now. He started the ball rolling, hoping the rest of the group — around 30 — would fill in the blanks of inviting between 30 to 70 international high school students initially.
He listed regularly scheduled community events that may procure relationships; sponsor families; and “tailing parents.”
Lauver presented possibly something else to consider — From discussion with representatives from the American consulate in China, potential parents may have an eye for economic development and see Iowa as a “wide-open space with resources,” Lauver said.
Before he invited the group to put ideas up, he said to keep in mind, “There will be issues, because we are human.”
Whether someone is hurt in an accident, homesick, or a myriad of other issues that could happen regarding a young high schooler, there will always be “naysayers” that may take advantages of negative happenings. Move on from it, he said.
“When you bring a bunch of people together, something isn’t going to work at some point,” he said.
The parents of the incoming students will be paying for the full cost of education.
Six pages of large diagram paper were filled with ideas from the group. People felt it was important for the high school children on either end (from Clinton and internationally) to have a deeper understanding of one-another — like in chat rooms, or further education on the opposite culture.
Also, the potential barrier in learned English, versus native speakers’ use of idioms and metaphors, was discussed. Safe spaces were discussed, such as where would the student go for general life issues (missing home, just to talk).
“What about their medical needs? I have children that have specific nut allergies,” Kathryn Calvin said. “If they were to go to another country, I would want to make sure that they had a doctor set up over here.”
Calvin, thinking for the parents, wants to make sure they have access to the medical centers, and medication or other medical support.
Sandy Jacobs brought up concerns about bullying and counsel services to children affected by that.
“If there is a problem,” she said, “it can be addressed before someone gets hurt or whatever.”
One suggestion was that media and social media platforms be utilized in welcoming and education. Prior to the children’s arrival possibly in the fall, perhaps web blasts would help “get the word out.”
The students will also be coming from various parts of the country (and beyond), with their own sub-languages, sub-cultures, varied religions. The group wants that addressed, to ensure the students are getting the resources they need so far away from home. Lauver anticipates the students speaking mostly English.
“If they are having a problem ... will there be the opportunity to have fluent adult interpreters?” asked Margi Bengtson. “It’s one thing to know sign language, but it’s another thing to be an interpreter that is fluent and can communicate with that person on their level, not expecting them to (focus on English).”
Trained resources were major factor of the night. The people of Hate Has No Home Here find that support system to be pertinent to the students’ lives in Clinton.
Clinton High School students Ryann Hubbart and Grace Nickels said their classmates just want to know more details about the incoming students. They want to get to know them on personal levels, but also if there will be any changes in their day-to-day academics.
Other items brought up
n the students getting part-time jobs
n opportunity to celebrate culture and holidays
n the good and the bad side of Clinton. (Calvin said that people need to know what they are getting themselves into, the full package).
n academic issues and sports