NaTakallam began, first and foremost, with addressing the problem of being a displaced person without a job and/or a sense of purpose. Whether being barred from legal access to the local workforce, unable to find work due to a dearth of opportunities, or struggling because of cultural or language barriers, refugees and displaced individuals are at great risk of falling into depression, poverty, and desperation.
While the organization began by focusing on Arabic speaking refugees, over the past three years NaTakallam has expanded its offerings to include Spanish, Persian, Arabic and French. NaTakallam recruits, trains and hires refugees as Conversation Partners (CPs), and then connects them with students around the world for language practice. They offer a range of learning options, including one-on-one tutoring, guest speaker sessions, integrated K-12 curricula, university programs and translation services in 9+ languages. Providing students the chance to learn a new language while building a relationship with someone whose life is very different than their own, NaTakallam expands much more than just their user’s linguistic repertoire.
As NaTakallam continues to evolve and develop new programs, expanding its ability to provide displaced persons with access to income and a sense of purpose, they play a key role in fostering empathy, dialogue and intercultural understanding worldwide. With the introduction of their new community session programs, NaTakallam is now expanding its reach to include workplaces and community spaces.
GHR Foundation was fortunate enough to host a lunchtime community session event with NaTakallam at the close of their grantmaking, where staff and special guests got to hear from two CPs, who shared their stories and described their experiences working with NaTakallam. Both CPs expressed a profound sense of gratitude for the chance to share their language skills while connecting with a diverse range of people, allowing for friendships to form even across great distance.