YMCA of Greater Erie

Erie, PA – In January, 15 refugee women completed training and internships in childcare through a unique partnership between the Erie Art Museum, Erie County Cooperative Extension and local day care centers.  The Downtown YMCA Early Care & School-Age Enrichment Center served as a training and internship location for four women.

According to Kelly Armor, folk art and education director for the Erie Art Museum, “Old Songs New Opportunities is a job training program which addresses financial and cultural needs of refugee women.  They are culturally rich, but economically poor.  They need training and employment opportunities. Their rich folk culture can be an anchor for these women as they grapple with the challenges of a new life in new country.  It can also e a treasure for our community,” says Armor.  “While most Americans have lost the ability to sing with and to our children, immigrants from traditional cultures instinctively use song to bond with and educate their children.  Our city’s daycare centers are seeking qualified employees and they also constantly looking for quality multicultural programming. The project trains women about working in an American daycare, helps them translate their songs into English and gives them internships in local daycares.

The women presented their traditional songs and culture at a professional development session for early childhood workers.

Staff of the Eastside Y attended this session and invited the program’s graduates to the Eastside Family Y Early Care & School-Age Enrichment Center to share their songs and dance with other staff and the children.

The women are from Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine & Bhutan.