EOC at Bloomsburg University

Angela Bassett and Arabic:  EOC at Bloomsburg University

Yesterday EOC, Inc. hosted its first field trip for our adult program.  I spent the last few weeks coordinating this with the staff of ResCare, which is our local GED program for young adults.

Here are our clients on the campus of Bloomsburg University.

Up until yesterday, ResCare had only taken their students to our local community college, which is great, but I wanted to give them more.  It was very important to me that these students visit and get exposure to a four-year school.  Although many, when they obtain their GED may choose to attend a community college because a) it’s cost effective and b) normally offers programs in which students can obtain certificates and diplomas in a short amount of time, my goal was to plant a seed.  This seed?  The reality of obtaining a four-year degree.  A degree that they can pursue in the near future, or sometime long after achieving their certificates or associates degrees.  This trip was to serve as a reality that could be theirs.

In the photo, you see a young Muslim woman to the far right.  During the tour of the campus, after a presentation from admissions she and I had a brief conversation about the campus and her goals.  She is considering becoming a nurse or maybe majoring in education.  I asked her if she could see herself on this campus in the future and she excitedly responded, ‘’yes”.  She then proceeded to talk about living on campus and what that would be like.  She was excited in her speech.  Our conversation was short as we were eventually separated and I wanted to converse with as many of the students as I could.

Lunch

In the Scranton Commons we sat down to eat.  I chose a booth and eagerly looked at the plate before me.  Sautéed broccoli, rice and a colorful spinach salad.  Mmmm mmm.  I had only gotten a few bites in before I looked up and saw the young Muslim woman before me.  With her was her plate and she asked if she could sit with me.  I nodded.

The Conversation

Our time spent together at lunch was a fascinating experience.  We talked about the black women’s inability to age, and so of course Angela Bassett was a topic of conversation…because duh, you cannot have a conversation about beautiful black women and not mention Angela.  We then moved on to the topic of Egypt.  She lived there for eight years.  I asked questions and we laughed at the ignorance of Americans.  She said many have asked her if she had lived in sand or in pyramids.  This young woman speaks fluent Arabic.  I was impressed. I encouraged her to make that work for her in the future.  Work in areas in the country where there is a big Arabic speaking population.  Agencies/businesses would be in need of professional translators.  Although it was Ramadan, she decided not to fast that day.  We then discussed our experiences with fasting.

Abraham

In the sunshine the group took last minute photos, I proceeded to give my goodbyes and walk the students to their buses.  I thanked a group of students that were around me, encouraged them to get in contact with our agency if they ever needed anything and reminded them that my name is Angeline.  Immediately after came a voice that said “Abraham”.  The young woman I spent my lunch with gave me the warmest smile.  She asked if she was right and I nodded.  She was making sure she knew my full name.  Suddenly she opened her arms, wrapped them around me, gave me the most innocent hug, and said “thank you”.

My drive home

As I drove back home from Bloomsburg I could not help but feel this warmth.  Although I was exhausted, my eyes were heavy and I was desperately in need of a nap, none of that seemed to matter as I continued to think about the young woman and her hug. Many of the students that attended, like her expressed throughout the day that they now envisioned their selves as students on the campus of Bloomsburg University.  The cherry on the cake was the smile and hug I received from the young woman.  It reassured that my efforts had not gone in vain and provided me a comfort in what we were doing in our agency.

I am thankful that Educational Opportunity Centers gave me the opportunity to coordinate this trip.  My personal goal of planting seeds has been fulfilled.  The seeds were planted and I hope to continue watering them with additional services once these students achieve their GEDs and are looking to explore their options in post-secondary education.

I leave you with this…TRiO works.

Angeline Abraham, MSW
EOC Academic Specialist

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