NaTakallam’s Gift Guide for Language Learners & Language Lovers!

The season of giving is upon us!

Are you looking for a gift with impact? NaTakallam is an award-winning social enterprise that provides remote work opportunities for refugees and displaced persons in the language sector. Here are a few suggestions for your holiday shopping!


Gift of Conversation– For a language enthusiast

Is a friend or loved one learning a language? Give them the Gift of Conversation? NaTakallam offers online one-on-one lessons in Arabic, Persian, and Spanish with our conversation partners who are displaced persons or refugees. French to launch in Spring 2019. Starting at just $13/hour, packages are available for 1, 5 and 10 hours.

Integrated Arabic Curriculum for Beginners– For the Arabist

So…you’ve heard of it–that Arabic is almost impossible to learn, especially because it’s not just one language, but many as a result of it’s multiple dialects. Guess what? NaTakallam’s Integrated Arabic Curriculum combines both Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine dialect. 

In this 25-hour one-on-one online language course, meet with a NaTakallam conversation partner to practice the writing and number systems and learn over 200 everyday words.

Tote Bag For a student

Students can carry their books around campus in style with our NaTakallam tote bag. They’ll be sure to get the conversation going. Yalla!

Mug For an early riser

There’s nothing better than pouring a cup of your favorite coffee or tea before sitting down for a session with one of our conversation partners. 

T-Shirt For a conversationalist

Does someone you know love to chat in Arabic? A NaTakallam t-shirt is the perfect daily reminder to start the conversation!

“Word of the Day” Postcards– To say thank you

Looking for a creative way to say thank you for all of your holiday gifts? Send your gratitude on a NaTakallam “Word of the Day” postcard- each pack has 10 unique Arabic words.


Are you feeling inspired? Feel free to combine any of the post options for a full or partial NaTakallam kit! Swing by the NaTakallam shop today…We offer free shipping within the US and UK. 

**Kindly note that orders must be placed by Dec. 20th to ensure delivery by Christmas for items that need shipments. 


Importance of Language

Visit to Ritsona Refugee Camp, Greece

Lydia Bassaly, Head of Recruitment and Translation/Interpretation Services.


“At first they were confused by the Egyptian dialect, but it didn’t take long till their smiles grew as they realized I was their avenue to the staff.”

After a visit to Ritsona Refugee Camp in mainland Greece, I realized the important role language plays in creating ease and communication between refugees and humanitarian workers.

I was invited to the site by Lighthouse Relief, a group of volunteers who aim to provide immediate relief to those arriving in Greece, with a special focus on the youth. Once I arrived, I met with the Program Manager of Lighthouse’s Youth Engagement Space (YES), a program that creates space for workshops and creativity among youth in Rtisona. Through my visit, I learned that children 12 and older weren’t able to attend school, which led to a real need for the space created by the YES program.

While walking through the camp,I began using my Arabic to communicate with the youth and kids. At first they were confused by the Egyptian dialect, but it didn’t take long till their smiles grew as they realized I was their avenue to the staff. “Could you please ask her if I can play with the guitar now?”, “can you ask her when I can bring my older brother?”, “can you ask what time the games will start?” There I was bombarded with questions, translating to the staff and back to the kids.

I didn’t expect my visit to bring a benefit in such a short time, but given that most of the staff at the site were Greek, American, Canadian, etc, none of them spoke Arabic fluently. I couldn’t begin to imagine how day-to-day operations took place with the little Arabic or little English either group knew. One of the many thoughts on mind while leaving was “what would it look like if the humanitarian workers, staff, and volunteers knew enough Arabic to make life just a little easier, just a little more comfortable, just a little more familiar to those they’re with everyday?”

World Refugee Day 2018: Final Fact

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Myth: Refugees don’t make for good employees.

Fact: Reports show a company’s decision to hire refugees “makes sound economic sense” and yields great results.

The Tent Partnership for Refugees recently published the first report studying refugee employment. In it, Tent shows that hiring refugees is more than just a moral, humanitarian-minded decision; hiring refugees actually makes economic sense for several reasons. First, refugees who are finally able to be resettled have often spent years in camps or under-served urban areas without the ability or right to work. Once they arrive in a new country, they are eager to begin working which means they will be more flexible with their shifts and more enthusiastic than other employees. U.S. employers can also find solace as refugees go through the most extreme vetting and security checks. Additionally, refugees speak a foreign language which is a highly desired and useful skill for any company with global operations.

As many Western countries experience aging populations, refugee influxes provide a valuable source of human capital for labor shortages. For example, in the United States, 77% of refugees are of working age. Some estimates claim that by 2030, 20% of the U.S. population will be older than 65, and that the American workforce will be insufficient to replace these workers. Furthermore, the Tent report claimed that many businesses hiring refugees claimed that employee turnover rates were much lower among refugee employees – thus, saving businesses a lot of money.

NaTakallam aims to change the narrative around the refugee population, often seen as a burden rather than an asset. Being a refugee is not an exclusive identity – many of NaTakallam’s conversation partners and translators are former teachers, engineers, artists, and more. Many studies have shown that a lack of employment opportunities is the single greatest barrier to integration. For World Refugee Day, NaTakallam hopes that employers around the world will recognize the value of hiring refugees not just more moral reasons, but for economic ones as well.

Sources:

https://medium.com/the-edict/open-doors-why-refugees-are-good-for-economies-420d0367880a

https://www.tent.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Tent_Guidebook_FINAL.pdf

 

WRD 2018: Fact #9

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Myth: Most refugees arriving to the U.S. are from Middle Eastern countries.

Fact: The biggest arrivals to the U.S. are refugees from Myanmar & the DRC.

For a refugee, fleeing violence and prosecution, there are three durable solutions in the context of international law. The first is repatriation, meaning there is no longer threat in their home country and individuals are able to safely return. Asylum is the second, meaning that a refugee has traveled and made it to a country to apply for residency. The third is resettlement. Most refugees arriving to the United States go through the resettlement process, as they often cannot get there without going through the UNHCR’s official procedures. Every year, less than 1% of refugees get a chance at resettlement.

It is a common misconception that the only refugees being resettled to the United States are from Middle Eastern countries. In fact, the United States accepts a plurality of people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Myanmar/Burma. People from the DRC make up the largest nationality of refugees in 15 states as of 2017. As of 2017, more than 25% of refugees arriving in the U.S. are from South Asia, and more than 30% from sub-Saharan Africa. For example, 12.6% of refugees admitted to the United States were from Somalia between 2015 and 2017 – compared to only 10% from Syria.

Sources:

https://www.tent.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Tent_Guidebook_FINAL.pdf

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/02/how-u-s-refugee-resettlement-shifted-in-states-since-2002/

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/us-accepted-refugees-2018/

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/almost-100000-somali-refugees-admitted-us-91

WRD 2018: Fact #8

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Myth: Refugees increase petty crimes.

Fact: Studies suggest refugees are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than native-born members of the host society.

Due to rising xenophobia, it has become a common belief that immigrants and refugees bring increased crime into their host countries, despite no evidence supporting these claims. In reality, studies consistently show that refugees are statistically less likely to engage in criminal behavior than native-born members of their host society. Regardless, in January of 2017, President Trump signed an executive order designating immigrants as a threat to national security due to all the supposed crimes they commit.

In the United States, for example, the Department of State’s Worldwide Refugee Processing System conducted a study to calculate the correlation between refugees and crime rates between 2006 and 2015. From the 10 cities in the United States that received the most refugees relative to size of the population, the study concluded that not only was there not an increase in crime, but nine out of the ten communities became considerably more safe in terms of violent and property crimes. Crime rates in Southfield Michigan, an area right outside of Detroit, dropped by 77.1%; in Decatur Georgia, an area right outside of Atlanta, dropped by 62.2%.

Every year refugees are less likely to be incarcerated than natives, with the gap widening each decade. Refugees have incarceration rates that are one-fifth to those who are natural born citizens. Not only do they commit less crime, it has become clear that refugees generally have a positive effect on communities. For example, they aid community redevelopment and rebuild local civil society in formenly decaying urban cores. In addition, immigrants and refugees contribute to economic prosperity.

Sources

https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/is-there-a-link-between-refugees-and-u-s-crime-rates/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/trump-illegal-immigrants-crime.html

https://www.cato.org/blog/immigration-crime-what-research-says

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/refugees-crime-rumors/480171/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-refugee-experience/201701/5-myths-about-refugees

WRD 2018: Fact #7

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Myth: Those arriving by boat are economic migrants, not refugees.

Fact: Most people arriving by boat are fleeing from war-torn countries and persecution.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 171,635 migrants crossed the Mediterranean and entered the European continent. Some people claimed that most people arriving by boat were economic migrants, discontent with the opportunities available to them in their home countries, who had arrived in Europe simply to find a better job.

Granted, it is hard to disentangle “refugees” from “migrants.” But a closer look at the data shows that the vast majority of people arriving by boat are fleeing from war-torn countries and persecution – economic opportunism is not the force driving migration across the Mediterranean. The Economist demonstrated that 75% of illicit arrivals by sea are from countries that usually obtain legal protection under international law. In fact, in Greece, “81% of those migrants [arriving from the sea] entering Greece can expect to receive refugee status or some other form of protection in the EU.”

It’s also important to remember that there are many other forms of legal protection beyond refugee status. There are also “subsidiary protections” and “humanitarian protections.” These apply to individuals who may not have sufficient legal grounds for refugee status, but reasons exist to believe that they need international humanitarian protections.

Even in Australia, 70 – 100% of people arriving by boat were found to be refugees. Ultimately, the Refugee Council of Australia notes that the simplistic categorization of sea-borne arrivals as “refugees” or “economic migrants” is damaging: “Some people may fear persecution, but they don’t have enough evidence for their claims. The Government may also think they can move to a safe area within their home countries. The situation may have changed as well in their home countries.”

Sources:

https://www.iom.int/news/mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reached-171635-2017-deaths-reach-3116

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2015/09/07/how-many-migrants-to-europe-are-refugees

https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/mythbusters/economic-migrants/

https://openmigration.org/en/fact-checking/what-is-the-real-number-of-refugees-arriving-in-italy/

https://www.mdx.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0023/409055/EVI-MED-first-report-final-15-June-2017.pdf?bustCache=885776

WRD 2018: Fact #6

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Myth: Refugee influxes ruin economies.

Fact: Studies show refugees can have long-term positive or neutral effects on national economies.

The notion that admitting refugees will ruin a host country’s economy is rooted in false economic ideas. For example, critics peddle the belief that refugees will take jobs away from the native population, thereby increasing poverty and unemployment. Additionally, the nativist argument claims, refugees present a huge burden on public resources, without creating economic value themselves.

In reality, studies have shown that refugee influxes have positive or neutral effects on host country economies in the long term. After the initial high cost of resettlement, refugees start businesses, pay taxes, and are active contributors to their communities. Refugees also create additional demand, since they add to the consumer base for food, accommodations, and infrastructure. Thus, some experts say that accepting refugees is akin to making a “lucrative investment,” according to the Washington Post. The International Rescue Committee reported that 85% of refugees resettled by the IRC were employed within 180 days of their arrival. Over time, refugees add more value to the economy than the initial cost of resettlement. In terms of taking jobs from the domestic population, studies show that low-skilled foreign workers and low-skilled domestic workers tended to complement each other, rather than compete. Additionally, refugees have a higher likelihood of starting their own business than other groups.

Still, refugees can only contribute to their host country’s economy if they are able to work legitimately. Many of the displaced persons NaTakallam works with are barred from employment due to legal restrictions – leaving them vulnerable to black market, dangerous work. NaTakallam allows refugees to make an income legitimately, and safely, regardless of their location.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/10/the-big-myth-about-refugees/?utm_term=.7d2a33cee0af

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/europe-refugee-migrant-crisis-myths_us_55f83aa7e4b09ecde1d9b4bc

https://www.rescue.org/press-release/international-rescue-committee-survey-shows-sympathy-syrian-refugees-across-europe

WRD 2018: Fact #5

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Myth: Most refugees restart their lives comfortably in new countries.

Fact: Less than 1% of refugees are resettled into new countries.

The notion that admitting refugees will ruin a host country’s economy is rooted in disproved economic ideas. For example, critics peddle the belief that refugees will take jobs away from the native population, thereby increasing poverty and unemployment. Additionally, the nativist argument claims, refugees present a huge burden on public resources, without creating economic value themselves.

In reality, studies have shown that refugee influxes have positive or neutral effects on host country economies in the long term. After the initial high cost of resettlement, refugees start businesses, pay taxes, and are active contributors to their communities. Refugees also create additional demand, since they add to the consumer base for food, accommodations, and infrastructure. Thus, some experts say that accepting refugees is akin to making a “lucrative investment,” according to the Washington Post. The International Rescue Committee reported that 85% of refugees resettled by the IRC were employed within 180 days of their arrival. Over time, refugees add more value to the economy than the initial cost of resettlement. In terms of taking jobs from the domestic population, studies show that low-skilled foreign workers and low-skilled domestic workers tended to complement each other, rather than compete. Additionally, refugees have a higher likelihood of starting their own business than other groups.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/10/the-big-myth-about-refugees/?utm_term=.7d2a33cee0af

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/europe-refugee-migrant-crisis-myths_us_55f83aa7e4b09ecde1d9b4bc

https://www.rescue.org/press-release/international-rescue-committee-survey-shows-sympathy-syrian-refugees-across-europe

WRD 2018: Fact #4

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Myth: Refugees have smartphones so they must be fine.

Fact: Being a refugee is not a socioeconomic status.

As images of migration across Europe began to dominate the news cycle in 2014-2015, many were quick to point out that a lot of refugees had smartphones, wore good-quality clothing, or seemed to be in good health. Accordingly, anti-immigrant groups claimed that refugees didn’t need help.

There are many factors to consider to debunk this claim. First, being a refugee is not a socioeconomic status. Refugees come from all levels of wealth, including many in the middle- and upper-classes. Refugees are fleeing war and persecution, which affect all members of society. Refugees don’t have to be poor or destitute– but most have lost all their material belongings and legal protections. Second, many anti-immigrant observers falsely assume that cellphone technology is a rare luxury in the countries from which refugees are fleeing. In Syria, for example, there are 75 to 85 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people – placing it right behind Austria and Hong Kong. We are living in an era of digital connectivity, unlike previous migration crises. Third, smartphones are no longer exclusively expensive. Smartphones can cost as little as $100 in some countries. Finally, smartphones are a lifeline for many refugees. They provide vital information on services, but also finding family members, dealing with emergencies, and staying connected to the world while living in isolation.

Thanks to this phenomenon of the “connected refugee,” NaTakallam can provide income opportunities to refugees, who only need a smartphone to work as language tutors and translators for users all around the world.

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/europe-refugee-migrant-crisis-myths_us_55f83aa7e4b09ecde1d9b4bc

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-plight-of-syrian-middle-class-refugees-a-880282.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/for-syrian-refugees-smartphones-are-a-lifeline-not-a-toy-1.3221349

https://qz.com/500062/the-most-crucial-item-that-migrants-and-refugees-carry-is-a-smartphone/

WRD 2018: Fact #3

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Myth: Most refugees live in camps.

Fact: More than 65% of refugees live in urban areas.

The expansive refugee camps around the world, from Kakuma in Kenya to Zaatari in Jordan, have become hallmarks for the global migration and refugee crises that have displaced over 65 million people around the world. Images of sprawling refugee camps are frequently pictured in media outlets.

However, more than 60% of the current refugee population live in urban areas, presenting a new set of challenges to what scholars describe as unprepared humanitarian organizations unequipped to deal with urban challenges. The European Commission estimated that over 90% of Syrian refugees in Turkey lived outside traditional camps. While Ferris and Krause-Vilmar offer encouraging evidence of humanitarian organizations adopting an “urban lens” to revisit their strategies, challenges remain. The authors point out that, when tackling the needs of urban refugees, it can be difficult to distinguish between humanitarian aid and development assistance. Moreover, aid provision in urban areas is problematized by a variety of factors. Brandt and Earle argue that urban refugees are highly mobile, often forced to move due to abusive landlords or the depletion of their savings. If refugees do not register with a UN agency, they risk becoming “invisible” to humanitarian organizations – thus, they would not be eligible for aid nor would they receive information about services. The humanitarian sector is trying to consult local officials and mayors and integrate their feedback into aid programming.

NaTakallam works with displaced persons in both urban areas and refugee camps – which is made possible because of how we leverage technology.

Sources:

http://www.urban-refugees.org/white-paper-global-compact-importance-refugee-led-organizations-effective-refugee-responses/

https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/ten-observations-on-the-challenges-of-humanitarian-work-in-urban-settings/.

Krause-Vilmar, Jina. “Dawn in the City: Guidance for Achieving Urban Refugee Self-Reliance.” New York: Women’s Refugee Commission, October 2011. https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/resources/document/782-dawn-in-the-city-guidance-for-achieving-self-reliance-for-urban-refugees

Brandt, Jessica and Lucy Earle. “THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR REFUGEES.” The Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy at Brookings, January 2018, 10. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-global-compact-for-refugees/