Success Story: Conversation Cafe at the Welcome Center

For our December Success Story, Midcoast Literacy is celebrating the one-year anniversary of our Conversation Café in partnership with the Brunswick Welcome Center.

Conv Cafe Dec 23 square02

Originally held monthly, now twice a month, the event has been a success with recent arrivals who can practice speaking their new language with native English speakers. Each time, 15 to 20 people gather around tables at the Welcome Center, coffee and cookies in hand, to chat. The experience is a truly inspiring one for those involved. The talk is lively and constant.

Volunteer Janice Douglass, who has attended several times, says, "I really look forward to my time at Conversation Café. It is a learning experience for all of us. I may be conversing and teaching new English words, but those present are teaching me about their lives and culture. The newcomers truly appreciate the extra support in learning this country’s language and I always leave knowing I have done more than just assisted them, I have made a new friend." Speaking partners are changed several times throughout the evening so that the conversation never falters. Another frequent participant, Kim Wilson, says, “Each time, I am completely humbled by the learners’ determination, not just to learn English, but to create a whole life in a new country, where nothing is familiar, and nothing is easy. I’m very grateful to play even a small part in their brave journeys.”

Midcoast Literacy runs the event with the assistance of the Immigrant Resource Center staff, particularly Rodrigue Mwenge, who acts as translator when necessary. He reminds us that many new Mainers are adding English to the multiple languages they already speak. “I would like to congratulate the entire Midcoast team and all the volunteers, as well as the Welcome Center, for their dedication and support provided to these families, and their help in breaking down barriers,” said Rodrigue.

Congratulations to all of the participants who have made our Conversation Café a success over the past year! MCL looks forward to continuing this important partnership into 2024 as more New Mainers arrive in Brunswick. If you would be interested in being a volunteer conversation partner at a Conversation Café in 2024, please contact us at admin@midcoastlit.org.