Creation of RHEAP Leads to Five Years of Study

RHEAP Provides Emily Feuerherm an Opportunity to Use Her Passion for Languages to Help Others




RHEAP recently congratulated Emily Feuerherm for earning a doctorate in Linguistics. Her dissertation focused on RHEAP, its construction as a community based research project, the curriculum development, and the needs of the Iraqi refugee population.


Emily first came to Opening Doors as a volunteer tutor for survivors of trafficking. Her curriculum became the basis for ODI tutoring programs and inspired staff members to approach her with the idea of building RHEAP. Emily's tutoring component meets the Iraqi refugee community's cultural and educational needs by offering bilingual instruction and a children's program. The English tutoring component, which gives Iraqi refugees and American tutors a chance to interact and learn more about each other's' cultures, is one of the most popular parts of the program.


Emily believes the key to RHEAP curriculum is that it is adaptable. Program coordinators keep a constant dialogue with RHEAP participants in order to quickly and comprehensively address their growing needs.


Emily said that founding RHEAP and meeting people who had survived and struggled through unmentionable horrors and challenges provided perspective to her work. "I would not have a Ph.D. right now if it weren't for the support of all those who have participated in RHEAP," she said.


Soon after Emily's graduation it was time to celebrate the completion of the latest RHEAP session. The 20 participants came together in Rushe Park to eat, play games, and receive certificates of recognition from their teachers.


Emily reflects on the RHEAP graduations as a special time for all of the families to celebrate together. "Everyone has a good time socializing without the structure and pressure of a lesson," she said. "Plus the food is always fabulous!"


At the graduations Emily expresses how proud she is of each participant. "Accomplishments in language learning can go slowly, but slow and steady improvements should be recognized and a graduation is the perfect time for this."


With her doctorate degree, Emily can do work she loves and believes in. She plans to pursue meaningful teaching and research, with the knowledge she gained from working with Iraqi refugees guiding her future endeavors.