In Omaha, children practice native Asian languages in a Saturday program designed to keep up their skills in native languages that are less common than others.
Omaha has a large Karen community, an ethnic minority from Myanmar. Over 150 children attend the program each Saturday, which includes teaching kids to read and write the Karen alphabet, and study the language. They also receive help in math and reading.
Iris Moo is a teacher in the program. “Kids now, it’s really easy to lose Karen,” said Moo, a University of Nebraska at Omaha student. “They speak to their friends in English, even if their parents speak (Karen) to them.” She came to the United States at age 16 from a refugee camp in Thailand.
The Karen program is important to reinforce the language the children speak at home and not lose ties to their culture as they assimilated into American culture. They learn to speak, read, and write in Karen.