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Community Service and Volunteering

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English Now! and our community service partner, the Washington Center for International Education (WCIE), organize service learning and volunteer programs year-round.

Our goals are to connect the Washington, D.C. international community to the local community, and to help others. We hope you can join us!


Do you want to learn to negotiate international crises like a diplomat? Do you want to experience advocacy regarding migration and refugee issues in the U.S. and around the world?

This is an online program for high school students who are interested in experiencing global citizenship, learning about diplomacy, and engaging in advocacy related to global migration.

This program has been designed especially for high school students with an international background (ESOL or otherwise), but students without an international background are very welcome to join as well.

This program has two components: 1) a Diplomatic Simulation designed by the U.S. Department of State and 2) an Advocacy Service Project that invites students to engage domestic and global stakeholders with an interest in migration and the care of refugees.

DIPLOMACY. In two online sessions, STUDENTS WILL LEARN HOW TO NEGOTIATE AN INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION CRISIS INVOLVING REFUGEE RIGHTS AND BORDER SECURITY. Student will participate in a Diplomatic Simulation designed by the U.S. Department of State. Students will work in small groups to represent “stakeholders” (e.g. countries, multilateral organizations, NGOs) in a negotiation process. See here for information about the U.S. Department of State’s National Museum of American Diplomacy, which has designed and which offers these simulations, and here for the simulation that students will complete in this program.

This Diplomatic Simulation program will include two (2) online preparation and negotiation Sessions:

ADVOCACY. In addition, STUDENTS WILL COMPLETE AN ADVOCACY SERVICE PROJECT, at home under the guidance of program facilitators, following the conclusion of the Diplomacy Simulation.

Students will write letters and/or emails advocating action on issues of their choice related to the topics addressed in the Diplomatic Simulation. Issues addressed include (but are not limited to) asylum, border security, human rights, immigration, migration, and/or refugees.

Under the guidance of the facilitators of the Diplomatic Simulation, students will study how advocacy and letter-writing campaigns work, engage in research regarding an issue of concern to them, review templates of effective advocacy communications created by non-profit organizations, and finally, draft, undergo an editing process and send their letters to elected representatives and/or to the governmental or non-governmental organizations of their choice.

Taken together, this program consists of: four (4) hours of preparation for and the conduct of the Diplomatic Simulation, plus four (4) hours of engagement in the Advocacy Service Project. The Diplomatic Simulation will introduce students to the language of “stakeholders” in international migration and border crises. The Advocacy Service Project will enable students to take action communicating with actual stakeholders involved in real-world migration and refugee affairs.

Student Service Learning (SSL) Credit Hours: This program offers local high school students the opportunity to earn SSL credit hours through WCIE. This program has been approved for SSL credit by the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Students in other public schools or in private schools may also be eligible for community service or SSL hour credit. Ask your school’s community service or SSL coordinator if your school will recognize this program for SSL or community credit hours.

Schedule and Times:

Total: Eight Hours

To Register: Students interested in this program must complete an online registration form here. Students will also need to provide a short personal statement (two to four paragraphs) explaining why they want to take part in this program and what they hope to learn from their participation.

Requirements: Students must be between 15 and 19 years of age. Students must complete the application and provide a short personal statement by Wednesday, November 18. Non-native English speaking students must have English language proficiency at a High Intermediate level or above. 

Timeline: Students will be informed if they are accepted to the program and will be provided program materials by Wednesday, November 25.

Questions: If you have questions, please email us at communityservice@washingtoncie.org.

Youth Facing Racism

A Four-week Program for High School Students Engaging American Experiences of Race, Ethnicity, and Identity

This dynamic SSL program for high school students - offered by English Now!’s community service partner Washington Center for International Education - includes eight online small group discussions as well as a service project completed at Corhaven Graveyard, a historical burial ground for African-Americans who were enslaved in Shenandoah County, Virginia.

This course has been designed especially for high school students with an international background (ESOL or otherwise), but students without an international background are very welcome to join as well.

Online small group discussions. Small group discussions - maximum six students - focus on "names" and include three units: Say Your Name, Say My Name, and Say Their Names. In the first unit, Say Your Name, we discuss the importance of identity through the framework of our names. In the second unit, Say My Name, students hear high school students' stories and explore ways to promote awareness and change around racism, stereotypes, and bias. In the third unit, Say Their Names, students will meet online with "poet ambassadors" from the Freeminds Book Club. These young adults, who had been incarcerated in their youth, will share their stories and explain how reading and writing poetry has changed their lives.

Service learning field trip. In addition to the three units described above, the program includes a service learning field trip to Corhaven Graveyard. Corhaven Graveyard is a historical burial ground for enslaved people. It has been developed as a site of remembrance and reconciliation. Participants in the field trip will complete a volunteer service project to improve the grounds of the graveyard. Enslaved people did not control their own names nor the names of their children. Participants in the field trip will engage in guided reflection regarding the lives of the enslaved people buried there, as well as their names - some known, many not, along with completing a service project.

Taken together, this program consists of four weeks of online discussion sessions meeting twice a week, plus a 2/3-day field trip on Saturday, October 17. **Students (or their families) will need to provide their own transportation for the field trip program, which takes place in Quicksburg, Virginia.**

SSL credit hours. The program offers local high school students the opportunity to earn SSL credit hours through WCIE.

Schedule and times. Online small group discussions meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-5:15pm or 5:30-6:45pm, for four weeks, starting on Tuesday, October 6.

Registration and waiver/permission slip. Students must complete an online registration here. Indicate you are applying for the “WCIE Youth Facing Racism” program. Students must also complete a waiver/permission slip. Download that waiver/permission slip here, complete it, and email it to Amanda Wilder, Youth Facing Racism Program Director, at communityservice@washingtoncie.org.

Information session. If you have questions regarding this program, we invite you to attend an information session held online on Zoom on Thursday, October 1, at 7:00pm Eastern time. Email us at communityservice@washingtoncie.org to let us know you are interested, and we look forward to seeing you at that time!

Online Food Drive

Community Service focuses immediately on a basic need—food security. Many in our community may not have enough food, as the economic impact of the public health crisis hits.

Please consider participating in our Online Food Drive. Help by ordering online grocery deliveries to one of three great organizations. This food will go directly to people in need, in the community, through these organizations.

Bethesda Cares is a great, local organization that serves the homeless in Bethesda and Montgomery County. Bethesda Cares urgently needs food to feed the homeless. Click on any of the links below to order food. Have orders shipped to Bethesda Cares: Maria Garcia Ripa, Operations Director, Bethesda Cares, 7728 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

September House MAJ is another great organization and is a long-term English Now!/WCIE partner. September House MAJ provides support for everyday life for Japanese people living in the Mid-Atlantic region. The organization helps families overcome financial, social, and emotional hardship by providing them with consultations in Japanese, including assistance accessing appropriate public resources, and also including food assistance during this crisis.

September House MAJ has an Amazon Wish list that enables you to donate Japanese food to families in need. Click here:


If you purchase food on this list, Amazon will send it automatically to September House MAJ.

The Children's Inn at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) has been a community service partner for years. The Children’s Inn at NIH supports the needs of children and families by supporting pediatric research and clinical care for sick children. The Children's Inn is a free, family-centered “place like home” that provides families a place to stay while their children are being treated at NIH. For years English Now! and WCIE have organized groups to visit Children’s Inn and make a meal for the families there. We can’t do that now, but you can click on this link to donate items from The Children’s Inn’s Amazon wish list to families in need.

Year-Round Community Service Programs

Community Service for Adults. English Now! and WCIE encourage international residents of the Washington, D.C. area to consider volunteering. Volunteering offers an opportunity to speak English outside the classroom, meet people, and engage across cultures.

Student Service Learning (SSL) for International Teens. WCIE also organizes programs that enable international teens to earn SSL service hours. SSL service hours are required for high school graduation in State of Maryland public schools and are encouraged in many private schools. For information about WCIE's SSL programs, see here.

Community Service Weeks. For the last five years, we have offered two Community Service Weeks a year, in the spring and fall. Community Service Weeks offer many options to participate in small group community service activities. For a typical schedule of activities—for our Fall 2019 Community Service Week—see here.

Please provide us your name and email address in the form below. We will email you about additional programs to serve the community and bring us together.

Thank you very much for your interest in community service. We look forward to serving the community together with you!