Broadway, 9th, and Old 63; Wabash Station, the Gold route, and COMO connect are all gibberish until a Columbia resident learns this important directional terms. The Refugee and Immigration Services office has recently added two transportation classes to help its clients navigate their new environment. Refugees that have attended so far have made incredible progress and have already begun to get around Columbia independently.
One class covers the bus system. Cultural Orientation instructors Bailey Everhart and Kelsey Hutton go over how to buy tickets, ride the bus, and highlight important stops on relevant bus routes. The program is tailored to clients’ specific needs, for example helping them find the nearest bus stops in relation to their homes and other frequent locations. For those who learn by doing, a guided bus ride and Wabash Station class is available as well.
The second class covers the layout of Columbia and emphasizes pedestrian safety. It involves practicing reading maps of Columbia, memorizing street names, and going over a few traffic signs. To enhance communication skills, Bailey and Kelsey go over giving and following directions to and from locations.
RIS urges refugees to take advantage of this course, despite potential learning barriers such as language differences and issues getting to the office. Kelsey has made herself available before class to pick up students and bring them to class. She and Bailey also hope to increase circulation of informational flyers in various languages, and intend to have class materials translated for learners who have not been exposed to much English.
If found a consistent success, the transportation classes may lead to new classes pertaining to housing, health, budgeting, and so on. The RIS office is continuing brainstorming ways to cater to Columbia refugees who are overwhelmed by so much information and change all at once.