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Debra Roethke


United States

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Suppose someone put you on a boat or plane and dropped you off in a country where you didn't know anyone, didn't speak the language, had no place to stay, food to eat, or any way of making a living. How long would you make it? Families who immigrate to America, legally and illegally, often arrive with language challenges and no idea of where to get help. Not speaking English is a huge hurdle, but not understanding the culture and how things "work" in America is an even bigger one. When you don’t understand how to use online resources to search for employment and services, apply for jobs, obtain healthcare, or get housing the obstacles become insurmountable. Everyday tasks we take for granted like grocery shopping, using public transportation, paying for goods, or helping students in school further limit success. Digital Literacy is a huge challenge for those immigrating to our country. How do individuals become digitally literate enough to survive, or even thrive? Will helping immigrants help us to become a stronger, better country? Can increasing the partnership between schools and families in need help not only the students to thrive but their parents and families as well? How can we use cell phones and free tools like GSuite to help give immigrants access to tools, strategies, and the things they need to become independent US citizens? Illegal immigration increased by 40% from 2021-2023. Most immigrants come here for a better life. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Homeless people can’t possibly succeed without the same skills. To have a better life in America, you must have a good education and understand how to use technology. Is our school/community connection the answer?

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