Muna from Bhutan
Muna lingered among her ESL students outside the apartment complex after releasing them early from class the morning I made a visit. It was evident that she is well-known in the community where she taught English. She is not only a teacher, but a dear friend and mentor to other refugee women in the neighborhood.
Muna left Bhutan as a young child and eventually settled in Nepal, where she spent all of her childhood and adolescent years growing up. She was a high school teacher for many years before she left for America. In 2010, she settled into Texas and faced months of perceived economic challenges as a Bhutanese woman foreign to the new land. She got in touch with The Community Cloth through a mutual friend, which served as a stepping stone as she adjusted to life in America.
She joined our program in 2013 and has since then sold over $1400 worth of products. You may have seen her signature animal hats and long-striped hats for people of all ages as well as the intricately knitted chevron-patterned scarves and cowls.
She currently teaches English in the Greater Houston area to other refugee women from the countries of Bhutan, Burma, and the Congo. Between the four languages, she often resorts to using charades (what fun!) when teaching vocabulary to her non-English speakers. It is without a doubt that Muna is a woman who takes the extra miles to give what she can to the community. Most of the women in her classes would otherwise have even a lesser opportunity to learn the English language due to the lack of access and means to obtain transportation.
As I looked around her classroom, against the walls leaned dry-erase boards of lowercase alphabet letters of "a" to "z" written out. Looking around the room, I realized I had walked into a space that signified the determination and humble beginnings of these refugee women in Houston.
Today, Muna works as a Services' Case Manager and as an ESL instructor. Muna is most proud of her students that have gone off to secure full-time jobs as medical and administrative assistants within the city.