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
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