YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Youngstown English Center is like many of the immigrants it helps: It has moved around over the last 35 years, but not by choice.
The center had to leave its previous site in December of last year after their host’s building closed, which has been a common theme for the organization.
“Unfortunately, throughout our history the buildings have closed,” said English Center Co-Founder and Teacher Bobbi Grinstein.
The school was able to find a new home at Jewish congregation Rodef Sholom on Elm Street in Youngstown. The school teaches exactly what it says on the sign: English.
“It’s an opportunity for them to learn not only English, not only history, not only the grammar, but a culturation, learning about our country and how to survive,” said English Center Co-Founder and Teacher Leslie Kiske.
The English Center also helps immigrants become U.S. citizens. Students say it’s important to have a such a center in Youngstown.
Student Khaldoun Kawa says because of his success, he has brought his parents up from Atlanta to learn English here.
“All of what you are seeing here while I am talking, it’s because of this place,” Kawa said. “My dad, he is like 81 years old, and two months ago he knows nothing. Now he can at least communicate with people.”
Carlos Luna said the center is also a place to meet friends from all parts of the world.
“It is hard to talk to each other, but it helps you a lot because you find friends and and you are communicating English,” Luna said.
Knowing English also helps students’ job prospects.
On average, center officials said it could takes up to two years for someone who goes through the program to speak fluent English.