Over the past year, In Her Presence has launched two new programs: Cultural Doula Training and Immigrant Tutor Training.
Pregnant immigrant women often lack language skills and familiarity with the U.S. healthcare system, especially as it relates to birth practices. U.S. healthcare practitioners often lack the deep cultural experience necessary to understand the immigrant women’s perspectives and needs. Thus, In Her Presence partnered with Birth Routes to create a unique Cultural Doula Training program to overcome linguistic barriers to accessing quality maternal and infant care for refugee and immigrant women in Cumberland County.
Six dedicated women were trained on topics including female reproductive anatomy, changes during pregnancy, and understanding prenatal care abroad and in the U.S. This program is slated to continue through 2023, training additional women with cultural and linguistic community ties to become effective supporters of pregnant women.
Most recently, IHP has launched Immigrant Tutor Training. Immigrant tutors participate in six hours of intensive training. Topics include cross-cultural awareness of teaching and learning practices, principles of adult learning, balancing teacher talk time, error correction, and much more. We then pair low-level English speakers with immigrant tutors. All tutors have achieved high levels of English. They are paired with students with whom they share a common language. This approach is allowing us to reach people who would otherwise not have access to any English classes due to barriers like lack of transportation, childcare, or technology, and demanding work schedules. This approach also benefits the tutor, who is empowered to lead and share not only language information, but also act as cultural mentor and guide.
Of the tutors trained so far, some are college students, one is a former doctor, and several have university-level teaching experience in their countries of origin. Our tutors are working mainly with small groups of one to four students. Two experienced people stationed at local hotels have met such impassioned demands from people asking to be allowed to participate – including a willingness to sit on the floor when there were not enough chairs – that they are now leading groups of 15 and 20 people.