MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho — When Masoud Ghotbi was growing up in Iran, he decided to learn English after seeing how many English-speaking tourists were visiting his hometown.
“So, I tried to learn and communicate with these people and get familiar with other cultures and see what other people think about Persian culture and the history of Iran,” Ghotbi said.
After becoming fluent in English, Ghotbi decided to teach English to others in Iran. This led him to write a book to help other Persian-speaking refugees in the Magic Valley learn English.
“So, from the time that I saw the situation, I found that some people need to learn English. I thought, why not? Put all your experiences together and I had good experiences for that and I had a good background for that,” Ghotbi said.
Ghotbi began writing his book in 2013. He says he wrote it strictly from his own experiences but added recommendations from others throughout the years.
“This book is a complete experience of probably 20 years of me teaching English and learning English and having lots of experiences in different schools,” Ghotbi said.
The English Language Center in Boise works with the Idaho Office of Refugees to help refugees resettling into Idaho through the process of learning English. Currently, they have around 100 refugees enrolled in their English learning program, which they say is lower than average.
“Numbers have been lower than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the previous administration lowering the number of refugees that could come into the United States, we’ve seen a drop every year,” said Chelsea Jordan, Program Manager for the English Language Center.
But they say learning English is an essential point of access for these refugees.
“If you know how to speak the language or you can converse and be understood in the language of the place you’re in, you’re at a completely higher advantage than someone who doesn’t. Even something as simple as talking to somebody at the grocery store can be something that is empowering,” Jordan said.
When Ghotbi resettled in the Magic Valley back in 2016, he said he used his English skills to help other refugees who didn’t speak the language.
“Immediately, I started helping other refugees with translation or interpreting and I'd like to be a court interpreter as well but I've been busy with my taxi company this last year, so I tried to put it aside,” Ghotbi said.
He says he is proud to be able to help other refugees through the process of learning English and hopes to continue to help more people.
“Being positive is always something you can say you're proud of yourself,” Ghotbi said.
To learn more about his book and purchase it, you can view it on Amazon.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Garibay at KIVI.