Diane Portnoy was three and a half years, when she in 1949 with his parents arrived at Ellis island. Her parents, Sylvia and Simon Katz, Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust. They fled from city to city, and at one point was in Siberia, tells the Boston Globe.
Of all the family, Katz only they survived, so I applied for entry into the United States in accordance with the Law of President Truman on displaced persons, 1948. In a new country, they went on a converted American battleship.
The couple settled in Malden (mA), surrounded by teammates, a Holocaust survivor, who mostly spoke Yiddish. They found work in a local factory jerseys, learned English and eventually opened her own business. They became American citizens.
Now their 73-year-old daughter is a leader in the education of immigrants. Diane Portnoy is the winner of the medal of honor of Ellis island; author of “the Struggle of immigrants, gifts of immigrants,” which tells of the contribution of the 11 immigrant groups in American culture; and founder and General Director of the Center for the education of immigrants (Immigrant Learning Center — ILC) in Malden.
Photo: screenshot of website ilctr.org
The woman opened the center in November 1992 with a small staff of three teachers and 60 students. On the waiting list already had 80 people wanting to learn in the center.
“I realized that so much misinformation about immigrants and refugees. So many stereotypes. The mission of ILC is to give the immigrants the word a chance to speak,” says the Tailor.
The centre aims to convey the voice of immigrants to U.S. residents via three main initiatives:
The program of learning English, which provides free year-round English language courses for adult immigrants and refugees;
Institute of education, which informs Americans about the economic and social contributions of immigrants;
Institute for immigration research, joint work with George Mason University in Virginia who studies this contribution.
Once immigrants come to America, “they need to learn the language, they must learn to navigate in our economic systems, our education systems, health care system,” says Diana. The center works to overcome this knowledge gap.
Along with English lessons, students acquire leadership skills, problem solving, organization of work, etc. On the website of the ILC also notes that students “achieve more confidence, self-sufficiency and the ability to contribute and participate in society”.
The tailor received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Boston University and a master’s degree in the field of curriculum development at Cornell University. Before opening the center, she taught part-time at the center of adult education, worked to create training centers in the private sector and conducted training of teachers for the state. After her children went to College, she decided to realize his dream and open his own training center.
In 2017 she was given the opportunity to open the center in the town of Malden, where her parents moved the girl, speaking only Yiddish.
Portnoy was inspired to help other immigrants, as she witnessed the growth of immigration to the United States in the late 1980s, years after the fall of the Berlin wall and later the collapse of the USSR.
Instead of having to sit idly by and watch inefficient, in her opinion, a government program, it started working and a year later he opened a Center for training of immigrants.
Currently the center has about 450 students and has 33 employees. The waiting list of those wishing to study on average there are from 500 to 900 people. Students adhere to strict attendance policy and spend 10 to 15 hours of intensive learning per week.
“If you come to this country to live here and earn a living, we will help you to learn English, we will teach you of the culture,” said Taylor.
Lessons include a technology program that teaches students basic skills of computer work, free lessons on citizenship, helping students through the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship, and the lesson for older students, which ensures that students over the age of 60 are not isolated in their new communities. There are also workshops on family literacy, which helps immigrant parents to interact with teachers of their children and to understand how to guide their children in the learning process.
In 2017, was created a class of Next Steps (“Next steps”), which aims to help students achieve their educational goals and work. This class helps students to focus on vocational training, higher education, professional requalification and job search skills.
Today, the center has helped nearly 10,500 people from 122 countries, living in 95 districts of Massachusetts. He also holds several webinars each year for teachers and the public.
This year marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Tailor said that it is important to remember the Holocaust.
She believes that those who survived the Holocaust or affected by it, are obliged to share their experiences, and schools need to educate future generations.
“I believe that the United States is the best country in the world. Here was very nice, very good to my parents. In any other country the little girl, who had nothing immigrant, could eventually succeed? In my opinion, this is only possible in the United States,” said the Tailor.