Gulala’s Story

Gulala's Story

Jun 22 2023

Gulala is our Adult Education ESL (English as a Second Language) Specialist at CWS Harrisonburg. In this position, Gulala works during the initial period of welcome and throughout the first five years after arrival to help newcomers develop proficiency in English. She does this by connecting adult clients to English tutors or ESL classes. Gulala has always valued the connection language can make among people. In her home country of Iraq, Gulala taught English as a foreign language at the high school and adult levels. 

During a computer literacy visit at a client’s house, Gulala needed Google Translate to communicate with the family. Throughout the visit, the wife remained quiet and uninvolved in the session. Gulala described, “she was silent, but I wanted her to find more joy in the session. So, I asked her, ‘how do I say thank you in your language? Teach me.’ So, I gave her the role of teaching me instead, just to break the ice.” 

As the client taught Gulala how to say “welcome,” in her language, the client, “immediately changed. I could see her face change. She began smiling. And she started teaching me.” They even began to have a conversation. “She was so happy because I started talking with her in her language.”  

“Everything is about language; language is so powerful,” Gulala said about the experience. Between two people, language bridges a path for understanding and empathy. Gulala explained, “I feel language has a magic. It has a magic and finds its way to your heart… It's a path between hearts.” 

Thank you Gulala for all you do at CWS and for our new neighbors in Harrisonburg/Rockingham!