Fox Valley Technical College helps Afghan refugees develop their English skills


APPLETON (NBC 26) — After being displaced by the Taliban takeover last year, hundreds of Afghan refugees have been relocated to Wisconsin. Today, Fox Valley Technical College helps Afghan refugees improve their English skills and rebuild their careers as they begin new lives in the United States.

One such refugee is Mohammad Azimy, who worked as a dentist in Kabul before fleeing his home country.

“Everything was normal, I woke up to go to the hospital to work for my patients and suddenly I heard on TV that the government had collapsed,” Azimy said.

He and his wife made the difficult decision to evacuate the country. They were transported to the United States by the United States Army, arrived in September, and resettled in Wisconsin shortly thereafter.

In the blink of an eye, they had lost their homes, their jobs, even access to their bank accounts. Even after years of studying medicine and working as a dentist, Azimy could not practice dentistry in the United States.

“I had 6 years of medical school and lost it because here they don’t accept my dental license. I have to do a credit dental program for at least two years,” Azimy said.

He had to start his career over from scratch – and the first step was to attend a technical college.

Gillian Giles-Skelton is Azimy’s English language learning instructor. She teaches a diverse group of students who are part of Fox Valley Technical College’s English language learning courses, which are organized into Levels 1-6 depending on the students’ skill level.

“I kind of have to gauge how much they want to talk about their country, how much they want to talk about their experiences and what I can do to help them out because some of them seem a little shocked “, says Giles-Skelton.

Even in the face of so much adversity, Giles-Skelton says many students remain optimistic. She says the diverse atmosphere in her class allowed the students to open up to each other.

“In this class, we have so many different countries and the students love it,” Giles-Skelton said. to facilitate and they’re just talking.

For Azimy, the college instructors and students have offered him a supportive community as he works to relaunch his career in a new country.

“Our class is made up of 5 or 6 different people from different countries and that’s the best part of our class,” Azimy said. “We can talk with them, we can know a different type of language, a different type of pronunciation, a different culture, different ideas.”

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