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February 05, 1988 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-05

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New Wave

Continued from Page 24

will be reimbursed through the
federal Block Grant program.
"It's a real shock when they first
come here," Zaks said. "They are here
for the privilege and right of freedom
of religion. In this country, nobody
tells you how to do things. That's the
great neon light of this place. But
they also come from a society where
everything is preordained, and here,
everything is decided on one's own.
Your job, school, where to live, how to
live — everything is open to choice.
That freedom is often experienced at
first as an incredible shock and
burden. But everybody gets used to it
real fast."
Besides offering financial support,
Resettlement Service provides
counseling, and refers new arrivals to
other agencies for assistance. Often,
agency staff members who speak Rus-
sian accompany them to Sinai Hospi-
tal, where they are offered -basic
health care at no charge. The Dri-
gants received physical examinations
through this program.
"An account is set up for the care
of the Russian Jews;" explained
Geraldine Clark, who works with the
Russians as a financial counselor for
indigent patients at Sinai. "Visits to
doctors, lab work, x-rays, prescrip-
tions, and any other outpatient care
is offered without charge. If a patient
needs hospitalization or surgery, the
social worker at (Resettlement Ser-
vice) will work with them through the
Department of Social Services and
Once health problems are taken
care of, immigrants, including the
Drigants, usually enroll in the
English language program offered at
the Jimmy Prentis Morris branch of
the Jewish Community Center under
the auspices of the Ferndale-Oak
Park school districts' adult education.
The program is open to any im-
migrant over the age of 18. Younger
students, such as Marina Drigant, 13,
learn English in language courses of-
fered in the public schools.
Currently, more than 100 stu-
dents are registered in the English
program at the JCC, the most since
1979. According to Program Director
Joanna Berger, the new students are
younger than previous immigrants,
and many have a basic knowledge of
"Most people coming now are
younger, in the mid-20s to 40s,"
Berger said. "Prior to this, it was the
older parents who were permitted to
leave. All of a sudden, it's the adult
children of those parents. They have
been refuseniks for eight or nine
years and were finally allowed to
come out."
The program employs certified in-
structors, some with Master's degrees
in linguistics or specialties in
teaching English as a second lan-
guage. Several started as volunteers
and were put on the payroll when the




Teacher Joanna Berger.

Benjamin Nigin is trying to learn the language.

Ann Fraymovich and her son Mike. Her
husband Alexander Kogan is pictured with
them on our cover.

Student Inna Leytes.

school districts took over the program
in 1982. Students are divided into five
levels and attend classes four days
each week. They can remain in the
courses for as long as - they feel it is
necessary. Teaching tools include
textbooks and other reading matter,
physical demonstrations of the mean-
ing of words, and "a lot of love," Berger
Beginning students are separated

into older and younger groups. "With
the younger students, there is a
greater sense of urgency," Berger ex-
plained. "We have to teach them sur-
vival English. After three months,
they have to be ready to take a job.
Our program is extensive. It isn't
enough just to teach the English
language. We have to get into the
cultural ramifications of living in a
different society. We have to teach

about freedoms — what you can an
cannot do with freedom."
Learning to cope with everyday
American life is the first order of
business for the students. They are in-
structed in how to talk on the tele-
phone, how to interpret all the infor-
mation they see on television or read
in newspapers, and what types of
things they can and cannot discuss
with people in this country.
"We have to teach them about
how to shop in a supermarket," said
Naomi Kelman, an instructor in the
program since 1974. "They are condi-
tioned to think that the most expen-
sive is best. They need consumer
skills. There are also cultural dif-
ferences. For example, in our society,
time is money. We have to explain
about the need to call to cancel ap-
pointments. They don't realize the
inconvenience caused by just not
showing up. That doesn't exist in
Russia, where they deal with the
The primary goal of the younger
students is to acquire the skills need-
ed to find a job. They learn about want
ads, resumes, job applications and in-
terviews. The teachers who have dai-
ly contact with the immigrants, work
Continued on Page 28

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