Empowering People. Strengthening Communities.

LSS Vocational ESOL Hospitality program graduates its first class, receives Partnership Award from Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Ghana is from Nepal, where he was a science teacher. Folly is from the West African country of Togo, where he served in the military and worked as a tailor. Naina is also from Nepal. She taught geography, history and other subjects. Their lives changed drastically when they were forced to flee their homelands and spend years in refugee camps.

Now, their lives have changed again, this time in a thoroughly positive way. These and 12 other refugees graduated April 9, 2010, from the LSS Vocational ESOL Hospitality program in Concord, New Hampshire.

immigrant servicesPhoto: Ghana Sharma proudly shows his graduation certificate.

“Ghana asked me what I thought USA meant to him,” remembers ESOL education and employment specialist Hallie Kay. “I didn’t know, so he told me: ‘U Start Again.’ That’s something I will never forget.”

Developed and funded through a partnership of LSS, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) and Concord’s Duprey Companies, the vocational ESOL program combines English lessons with on-the-job training. In class they hone their English skills and study the culture of working in the American hospitality industry. Outside of class they learn how to greet customers with smiles while performing the various tasks of keeping a hotel clean and running smoothly.

The graduation took place at the Red River Theatre in Concord with more than 100 people in attendance. Speakers honoring the graduates included CEI president Ron Phillips, Duprey Companies’ Steve Duprey, Concord Mayor Jim Bouley and LSS CEO Heather Feltman. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and U.S. Senators Judd Greg and Jeanne Shaheen sent their congratulations.

“This is a community, a state and a country of immigrants, and our strength as a community comes from welcoming people here,” said Duprey.