Southern New Hampshire University and the YWCA of New Hampshire celebrated the opening of a Center for New Americans in Manchester on Friday.
The goal of the new center, located in the heart of downtown Manchester, is to connect immigrants and refugees with a range of supports — English language tutoring, financial aid counseling, mentorship and more.
“Within the first two hours of announcing this effort, internally, we had over 150 employees put their hand up to say count me in, how can I help, I want to teach English, I want to do tutoring, I want to do help with homework. All of those things,” SNHU President Paul LeBlanc said. “And we’ll bring some of our financial aid people down here, our college counseling people down here, to have those conversations.”
And in this case, LeBlanc said, location was everything: “We want to bring our services to the immigrant and refugee community here to the center because this is where people live.” Asking people to make their way to the SNHU campus could prove challenging for those without cars or adequate public transportation, he said.
Kile Adumene, who immigrated to the United States from Nigeria and is now on the board of the YWCA, said she hopes the center empowers other new Americans to tap into strengths that can help them give back to their community.
“As an immigrant, people look at you and think because you came from somewhere else you’re not as valuable as the rest of the people, or you come to get. But no, you come to be part of a community,” Adumene said. “You come with a lot of skills. You come with so much that people don’t even realize. So giving people a chance to get to realize who they are and the gift they are to the community is so important.”