Portland Meet Portland offers unique two-way cultural learning and diversity training opportunities through thoughtful family and individual mentoring connections across cultures. Our educational and professional mentoring services build the trust and capacity for integration among immigrants and refugees while simultaneously, and consciously, fostering cross-cultural learning and diversity training for longer-term residents/mentors from the greater Portland area. We have four areas of service.
Citizenship and ESL Education
Portland Meet Portland understands that learning English and feeling comfortable communicating is essential to newcomers’ confidence building and success for in school, work and community. Immigrants and refugees arrive in Portland with varying levels of English and with a range of educational backgrounds: some have university and graduate degrees and others have never been in a classroom. Most newcomers work in jobs that have shifting work schedules and mothers often have significant childcare responsibilities limiting their mobility and schedules. We therefore offer custom tailored and flexible English and Citizenship ESL learning opportunities, ranging from classroom instruction, to small in-home group sessions, and one-on-one tutoring specialized to a student’s level or professional language needs.
Youth Leadership Development and Lived Citizenship
The children of immigrants and refugees have a unique adjustment experience that places them in a special world between the cultural traditions of their parents and the existing social context of their new “American” friends in school, on the playground on sports teams and in other youth-based activities. Portland Meet Portland (PMP) offers a Young Speakers and Leadership Program that mentors immigrants and refugees, ages 15-25, to advocate for and share their cultural assets in the wider community. An example is The East African All Stars (click here for more), a Somali Youth Basketball Team, focused on fostering leadership skills on and off the basketball court for personal empowerment and community safety. PMP prides itself on its positive youth development expertise – both for immigrants and refugees as well as for ‘mainstream’ youth looking for cross-cultural learning, service, leadership and volunteer opportunities. “Spend a day in the life of…” creates one-on-one exchanges through shadowing opportunities that center around family, cultural celebrations, school, sports or professional learning.
Stories from Our Village
In 2013, the Stories of Our Village project emerged as an opportunity to share stories of one of the most diverse communities in Portland = New Columbia. The mission of the story project was to capture in their own words a variety of voices from the New Columbia world. You can read the full Stories from Our Village right here.
In the Lived Citizenship Project, fifteen youths explore the meanings of belonging, exclusion, community, citizenship, and diversity in the United States. They interview members of the New Columbia neighborhood, a public/private housing development with a mosaic of ethnicities and races, settled citizens, new citizens, those who aspire to be citizens, and those who are part of the community without being citizens. With the exception of one, the youth are from refugee and immigrant families, whose parents, with the exception of one, have in recent years become citizens. (The family of one participant is vulnerable to deportation.) These young people aspire not only to be good citizens themselves, but to be leaders. They are from low-income families and are truly motivated to create good futures for themselves, mentally, emotionally, financially. Under the direction of oral historian and teacher, Kay Reid, the youth meet regularly to hear guest speakers, study assigned readings, and turn in their written responses to speakers and reading/viewing assignments. What started as meetings are now classes in civic and cultural competency. Additional youth will join the project in its evolving phases, which include interviews, transcription and editing of interviews, script-writing, production and presentations. There will be at least one public presentation as well as a booklet for the public.
Work Skills and Professional Mentoring
Portland Meet Portland recognizes the wide range of educational, work, and creative life skills that refugees and immigrants bring with them to their new homes in the United States. Making these culturally diverse assets of resilience, tenacity, entrepreneurialism and creativity more visible and viable in our local economic landscape requires building relevant and specific language, technological and professional skills. Portland Meet Portland offers one-on-one mentoring to assist newcomers navigate the complex range of educational, vocational and professional venues for re-skilling in ways that leverage and maximize their unique backgrounds. We specifically focus on opportunities to match professional mentors with immigrant and refugees, especially stay at home mothers, who have fantastic, yet unrealized potentials to create in-home mico-enterprise or on-line businesses.
Cross-cultural Training and Dialogue Services
Portland Meet Portland (PMP) contracts with public agencies, private businesses, schools, community associations, and nonprofits interested in cross-cultural training workshops and dialogue facilitation concerning immigrant/refugee communities, cultures, and conflict
Cross-Cultural Training Services
- Informational awareness sessions about immigrant and refugee experiences
- Cultural Competency
- Cross-cultural team building and management in multi-cultural workplaces
- Consultation on culturally inclusive program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation
- Dialogue process design
- Dialogue facilitation for conflict transformation
- Victim/Offender dialogue
- Public dialogue and conversation