Boundaries & Personal Safety

“The only place I feel safe is when there are an approximately equal number of adults & children – too many children, and the kids get into trouble; not enough children and the adults get into trouble.”
– Anonymous

Most of the language & culture learning resources for immigrants/refugees/non-native speakers are private or public educational institutions, or community-based spaces. The educational programs are costly in terms of time and money, and assume a level of familiarity with an academic setting including formal assessments and leveled curricula. The community-based settings generally feature volunteer teachers and are low- or no-cost.

People-Places-Things was born to support community-based spaces where non-native English speakers and their families gather to practice their English skills. These are locations like churches, libraries, k-12 schools, and community centers located in communities with large immigrant/refugee populations. In Portland, that means Hillsboro, Gresham and Southern Clackamas County.

There are more than 100 such sites in the Portland Metro area – you can find a lot of them at the Portland ESL Network.  They are often characterized by variable attendance, few resources, and no support and development for learners and practitioners outside of the program.

Educational/Academic programs prioritize language learning above other goals, but community-based spaces have other goals – and one of them is community building.   So, when P-P-T set out to create a program structure that could work in all these diverse spaces, we knew we’d have to leave quite a bit more space for interpersonal relationship development – in fact, that’s one of the things people are attending for. We believe these spaces are not merely a low-budget response to an awkward system, but an essential development in an authentic multicultural society.

But how do you make friends with people you can’t talk to?  That’s why we have our Interculturalist training program English for the Community certificate – please consider taking our training if you feel called to do this!

The purpose of this page is to help you create & navigate the boundaries to keep your community safe and connected. The two big issues are working with people without legal documentation, and how to develop and maintain respectful, safe, and meaningful cross-cultural relationships.