KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Refugees who recently fled Afghanistan are celebrating the holidays in the U.S. for the first time this year.
In Knoxville, the holiday party at the Center for English provided a space for new Americans to come together and acknowledge their accomplishments over the past semester.
The Center for English is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching refugees and immigrants English and to provide them the tools needed to lead a successful life in America.
Two of the newest students at the center are brothers Obaidullah and Ebadullah Wahab.
They came to the U.S. seeking refuge three months ago. After spending one month at a camp in Virginia, the brothers were relocated to Knoxville.
"I like it. [It's] beautiful," said Ebadullah.
Obaidullah and Ebadullah were forced to leave the rest of their family in Afghanistan. They are hopeful they will reunite with them in the future. "One day, I [will] be able to bring my father or my mother or my family to here," said Obaidullah.
Although it gets lonely without their their parents and siblings, they said the friendships they've made at the center help brighten their days.
Those friendships extend beyond the classroom.
"The family who just had a new baby, they moved here in May. I got to go to one of the you know, pregnancy visits," explained volunteer teacher Suzann Swiney. "I mean, how exciting is it to see a baby on ultrasound again."
She said special moments like those inspire her to continue her teaching journey.
"Being in the later part of life, when you think you don't have anything important to do, I think I may be doing the most important thing I've ever done."
Volunteers are needed to help support growing demand at the Center for English.
There are multiple ways to volunteer; teaching, driving and childcare are a few.
For more information, click here.