Our 11th Green Train class of fourteen students will graduate this Thursday at 11AM at the St. Clare Theater. We welcome you to join us in celebrating the accomplishments of this smart, hardworking group!
The Green Train students have spent 12 weeks learning construction and weatherization skills via classroom learning and hands-on work experiences. After numerous afternoons of demolition, construction and weatherization activities at 507 State Street, they practiced various insulation and air flow testing techniques for three days at the Telos Center in Jamesville. Finally, the class spent two snowy days at Adam’s Eden Camp in Lafayette. Here, they deconstructed an old wooden supply cabin, salvaged usable parts, and learned how to evaluate and reinforce them for reconstruction. I pulled a few students aside at Adam’s Eden to hear their reflections on the course.
George, a French-speaking refugee from DRCongo, arrived in Syracuse in September. I notice that he speaks more fluently in English now than four months ago when I met him at a recruitment gathering at Bob’s school. Three-hour classroom sessions every morning, he says, helped with this. He also enjoyed connecting with new acquaintances and learning about American workplace culture. “Here, time is money and you work by heart.”
Raul, a longtime Syracuse resident from Cuba, came to the class after a period of unemployment, and was hoping to improve his job prospects. He proudly emphasizes the skills he has gained in building, demolition, and use of hand and power tools. “I made a table, fixed a wall. My team built a doghouse. We worked like a football team, a baseball team. The communication was the first thing.”
José, originally from Spain, feels “a little sad” with graduation approaching. “This was a good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot, and I got to know some people who are really interesting, and other people who are really kind.” José hopes for a job in construction, perhaps incorporating his previous experience in tiling and masonry. He emphasizes the good feeling that comes from craftsmanship: “Something you can see and you can say wow, it’s a good job. It’s amazing. Something beautiful to see. That’s what I like to do.”
Bakari, a New American from the DRCongo, most enjoyed the weatherization aspects of the Green Train course. Like many of the students, Bakari has gained both skills and a sense of competence –a feeling of preparedness to take on a job in his new country. The parents of five children, Bakari and his wife have worked hard to establish their family in Syracuse. Green Train is an important piece of this puzzle. “I feel ready to work now. I want to work. If I get a job, I will be ready to work!”
Recently resettled in Syracuse from Burma, Maang has appreciated equally the English exposure and the hands-on experience of afternoons spent in the workshop. “I’m very happy with the class,” he comments. “I just want to thank you very much for Green Train.”