Library Brings Together Recent Immigrants and Long-time Residents


I hope you might find this guest blog article by Ed Latham of interest. Published today by World Education, as part of immigrants National Welcoming Week, it describes a fascinating nonformal education program held in a rural Maine public library on Saturdays that has led to some wonderful opportunities for recent immigrant and longtime Maine families to get to know each other, learn in a wide range of domains, and have fun together.

If you like this article, please share the link with others, and add your comments at the end of the article.

David J. Rosen



Thank you for posting this wonderful anecdote from Ed Latham, David. I am truly inspired by how this rural community in Maine has come together to build friendships and give new Americans the chance to practice English while playing an assortment of fun games. Just an hour ago, I shared Ed's story with one of the teachers in my program because she expressed interest in finding ways to connect the learners in her class to the community outside of class. One idea this teacher is considering is connecting with retirement centers to find conversation partners. Using games would provide a structure and add real fun to the mix!

Members, please share your reactions to Ed's story. Have you tried anything similar in your community? What other ideas might we try to help new Americans get acquainted with new friends?

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, AELL CoP

Susan and others, the energy around the work this gaming group is doing is wonderful and I love the discussions starting up!

As we discuss these kinds of topics, I think it is very important that we be careful of portraying things as one directional. In our gaming community, all parties are equally benefiting from the efforts of our group. English learners are learning as much, or more from the families that have come from other countries. The intent has never been to help new people to the area feel welcomed or accepted. Instead the focus is centered on all members of the community, no matter race, gender, age, economics being comfortable coming together to share all of our awesomeness together while learning in an informal setting. 

I suspect that attempting this kind of project just to benefit or target one part of a community would not be as successful as this group has been. Just a cautionary opinion as everyone collaborates on how gaming can bring communities together to build awesome places to be!


Thank you, Ed. Of course, you are absolutely right to emphasize that the benefits of these kinds of community building activities go both ways. I would say that there has--perhaps-- never been a greater need to build strong communities of respect and camaraderie than now. Looking forward to hearing other members' thoughts on this!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, AELL CoP

While we can discuss the educational benefits of gaming, these relationships built during gaming truly bring a sense of community in a relaxed an non-threatening manner. Students are learning how to positively interact with peers and building a support network. When we talk about retention with students, one of the most important aspects is that students need to feel as though they belong. 


Kathy, I appreciate your highlighting the desire to "feel as though they belong". New people walking by our gaming groups often display signs of curiosity as well as a fear that they don't belong in such a well established group. Fortunately, our group has always been quite alert for such fearful interest and members quickly jump up to invite others in to feel welcomed. When I talk to "new" players after they have been with the group a couple weekends, I hear the same accounts from each. 

"At first I was really afraid because everyone seemed to know each other and they all knew what was going on. Then (insert a name) pulled me in and started teaching me the game he/she was playing. He/She even let me make some of the decisions for their turn! It was so easy to relax because of how welcoming everyone was."  Not surprisingly, as other new people come in, our recently new players are often some of the first ones to jump up with a warm invitation :)