Marshall Adult Education

The Trash is in the Bag

By Rae Kruger
Independent Staff Writer
Used by permission

MARSHALL — Ngon Vo of Marshall has volunteered before.
“Helping people build houses, do gardens, everything ...people helping together,” Vo said.

But that was in his home country of Vietnam. It’s not as easy for him to volunteer in the U.S., he said.

On Wednesday morning, Vo and other students from Marshall’s Adult Basic Education’s English as a Second Language Class had the chance to volunteer as they cleaned a section of ditches along Minnesota Highway 23 near Lynd.

“I like it,” Vo said of being outdoors with mild temperatures and sunshine. “We we’re outside in the fresh air.”

Abdullahi Ahmed, center, and Ali Aga pick up trash in a ditch Wednesday morning south of Marshall.

“Everybody does volunteering in my country,” said Ali Aga, whose home country is Ethiopia.

For students in the ESL class, it’s the same, Aga aid.

“Everybody is happy to do this.”

The ditch cleaning is part of the ABE curriculum to encourage civic participation, director Pat Thomas said.

The ABE program receives a civics grant from the state adult education office which is used to emphasize citizens’ rights and responsibilities, naturalization procedures, civic participation, and U.S. history and government, Thomas said.

KMHL Radio allowed ABE to use its adopted section of the highway to help ABE meet its grant standards, Thomas said.

“Students want to be part of the community, to do their share,” said ABE instructor Susan Burnett.

The students are Marshall are residents, some with longer ties than others. And some want to stay in the community although they lost jobs and are struggling to find new jobs.

Abdullahi Ahmed has lived in Marshall for seven years. Ahmed likes Marshall for its small size, friendliness and because it’s a good place to raise children.

But as he picked up empty pop cans, cigarette butts, chewing tobacco canisters and other trash, Ahmed knew he enjoyed the work but still needed a full-time job.

“I don’t have a job, so I’m going to school,” Aamed said.

Ahmed and Aga had worked at the Heartland Foods turkey plant before it closed. So had Bashir Hussein.  About six months ago, Hussein got a part-time job with a cleaning company.

“It’s good, it’s money,” Hussein said.

Vo was a forklift operator in Vietnam. Before moving to Marshall about 2 1/2 months ago, Vo worked at beef and turkey processing plants in communities in northwestern Minnesota. 

Francisco Gutierrez worked with cement.  He shoveled sand, and mix and moved large tubs of the cement, Gutierrez said.  Cleaning the trash from the ditches was physical labor, but not very hard compared to his old job in Mexico, Guitierrez said.

When Oyuna Brandon was a university student in Mongolia, she often volunteered to work with sick animals.

“One time all the university students went to the country and helped camel(s),” Brandon said.

Wednesday’s project was good, Brandon said. The other students agreed.

“I feel good for what we are doing,” Vo said.

Besides Ahmed, Aga, Hussein, Brandon, Gutierrez, Burnett, Vo and Thomas, student Bee Aphibanpoonan and instructor Vickie Radloff participated in Wednesday’s project.



Lyon County Government Center  •  607 W. Main St.  •  Marshall, MN 56258  •  (507) 537-7046

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