Global Neighbors partners with New Americans in North Dakota

Good Day Dakota

Imagine moving to a new place not knowing the culture, the people, or even the language. It could be a hard adjustment, but one local organization is trying to ease the transition for New Americans in our area.

Global Neighbors tries making the move easier by pairing local mentors with these New Americans.

Global Neighbors mentee, Peter Nderitu [translated by daughter Alice Musumba] says, “It was a little lonely because I had not met many people from here and had not gotten used to talking to them.”
 
Just like Nderitu many new immigrants, refugees, or people that move here to be closer to family have these same feelings. That’s what helped launch the idea behind Global Neighbors.
 
Executive Director of Global Neighbors, Leah Hargrove says, “I asked around and there was no programs that was partnering Americans with New American neighbors. So that’s when we decided that was something we could do. The board and I started in January of 2015.”
 
Global Neighbors believes there’s nothing that creates community like neighbor-to-neighbor relationships. They pair volunteer American mentors with New American residents in six-month partnerships meeting at least one hour every week. They help with English practice, homework tutoring, culture swapping, driving practice, exploring the community, or just sharing meals together.
 
Hargrove says they do their best to match mentors and mentees with similar interest.
 
“I have tried to match people that are similar age ranges, maybe everyone likes to cook in the family or they really like sports. So that way a natural friendship can evolve from the mentorship,” says Hargrove.
 
Alice Musumba and her dad Peter both went through the Global Neighbor program and told me how much it has helped them.
 
Peter Nderitu [translated by his daughter Alice Musumba] says, “His relationship with his mentor has been really good because it has helped him with the acquisition of the language, where at first started it might have been difficult to communicate. He is now able to understand more and more English when he speaks. That has helped him at the place he is employed and he is able to understand what the Americans are saying to him.”
 
Alice told me that because of Global Neighbors they have both been able to feel more at home. Alice who is now the board president and a mentor for the organization is trying to help new Americans like they did for her father.
 
“Humans fear what is different so when you see me different you might be a little concerned, but really as my dad said deep down we are all the same. And maybe consider how I might enrich your life, consider how you might enrich my life. Because as humans we are created to do life together not in isolation,” says Musumba. 
 
Mentor Lisa Kadlec says her experience has definitely been enriched by her experience with the organization. She reccommends this program to anyone and everyone.
 
“I would encourage people that want to provide a service to the community that it is very rewarding. It expands your world view, and I really think the first step for peace in our country is getting to know people that are different than we are,” says Kadlec.
 
Global Neighbors has had over 40-plus mentorships and have been able to help over 100 new Americans.
 
Leah Hargrove even won the City of Bismarck’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2018 for her work with Global Neighbors.
 
For more information about Global Neighbors or how to become a mentor or a mentee, click here
 

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