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MSIM Students Develop Refugee Language Learning Program

While many enjoyed the Patriots' Day holiday, four students in the M.S. in Innovation & Management program launched the pilot program for their new venture, Potentia. Born out of an Innovation Sprint project, Potentia seeks to improve the English-language learning services available to international refugees in the Massachusetts area by partnering community volunteers with those in need of the services. The program is co-sponsored by the Gordon Institute and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, supported by Tufts University faculty including: Josh Ellsworth (Affiliate, Tufts Institute of the Environment), James Intriligator (Professor of the Practice, Mechanical Engineering), Kevin Oye (Interim Executive Director, Tufts Gordon Institute), and Chris Swan (Assoc. Professor & Dean of Undergraduate Education, Civil & Environmental Engineering).

In the existing landscape, immigrants and volunteers alike currently face substantial barriers to developing learning opportunities, including funding, staffing challenges, and accessibility to the program itself. As a means of improving the serviceability for both sides involved, Potentia, founded as a non-profit organization, aims to mitigate transportation costs and incentivize available service offerings.

Potentia team members, Firas Mouasher, Amanda Wang, Jun Hyung Yoon, and Ted Yuan, promoted the pilot's launch by distributing flyers throughout local Boston-area towns, and their promotional efforts paid off. Four participants signed up to join the Potentia learning program, and attending the Patriots' Day session. The program paired them with local English-language tutors, many of which were current Tufts University students, who were trained in advance by Reverend Isaac Seelam from the Refugee Immigration Ministry. The Refugee Immigration Ministry is known in New England as an interfaith non-profit organization that provides community-based support, acculturation opportunities and social activities for uprooted individuals across a wide spectrum of religious beliefs.

The mission of the pilot program was to establish the foundation where college students and immigrants can learn from each other through shared firsthand interactions, putting themselves into each other's shoes to experience how challenging a language barrier can truly be. After the event concluded, both the tutors and learners reported that they found the Potentia program extremely useful and looked forward to continuing the partnership. Inspired by their learnings, the Potentia team has just started the journey to see the unseen, where everyone's potential can come true.