Dayna Krannawitter, who works for the Lincoln Housing Authority, is the site supervisor for the Arnold Community Learning Center and service coordinator at the Carol Yoakum Family Resource Center. She can be reached at 402-436-1120, ext. 5, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How do you help refugees?
A. I help provide information about the programs and services offered through the Arnold Community Learning Center and connect students and families with afterschool opportunities, family nights and parent resource information. Over the past year, I have become involved in coordinating funding to support the Arnold Family Literacy Program and am currently working with the Family Literacy specialist to develop a plan for sustainability of this important program.
Q. What is the most common question you get from refugees? (And how do you answer it?)
A. I usually get questions for clarification on what something means on paperwork or forms. Since these questions are asked when interpreters are available during the Family Literacy program time, I usually have help from the interpreters in explaining what the paperwork says. This question and answer time with interpreters would not be possible without the Family Literacy program. It would be much more difficult to connect with these families without it.
Q. What is the most difficult part of your work?
A. In reference to the Family Literacy Program, the most difficult part is telling the story of Family Literacy to potential funders. I see the power of this program in the school, the relationships that are built among the families and the school, parents working with their children in the classroom, the confidence that wasn’t there before when the parents walk into the school, and the many connections that these families are making in the community. It is difficult to convey this in only words to those we approach to help sustain the program. This is truly the best parent engagement strategy I have seen, and we should be supporting this as a community who cares about parents being connected to their children’s education.
Q. What does the wider community of Lincoln need to know about refugees?
A. That they want to be a part of their children’s education and they want to provide a good life for their children. They want to follow the rules and fill out the paperwork and do what it takes to give their children opportunities, but if they can’t understand the rules or what it says on a form, it may look like they’re not interested or don’t want to be involved. This was perhaps my biggest misconception about refugee families that I learned was not true after being connected with the Family Literacy Program.
Q. What does the refugee community need to know about Lincoln?
A. There are many people who appreciate their presence in our community because without it we would not have the wonderful cultural diversity in which to learn about others. I personally am inspired by their commitment to their children, their courage in seeking to understand, and their work ethic.
Q. If you could offer refugees new to Lincoln only one piece of advice, what would it be?
A. There are organizations and people in this community who want to help. … Don’t give up if you run into people who are unfriendly or don’t want you here. … There are many more who want to help. Get connected through your school, church, or cultural organization.