When looking for learning opportunities with an eye to a career in international childcare, Fargo, ND may not be the first place that springs to mind. However, Hyokyung Kwak found the perfect learning environment when she became a teacher at Jasmin Child Care and Preschool.
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Hyokyung became a student in Early Childhood Education at Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2019. At the recommendation of a friend, she interviewed with Jasmin Child Care and Preschool and joined their staff in June of 2021.
“I would like to go to Europe, Asian countries and Africa to learn more about different teaching methods and what policies and financing methods work best for them. My goal one day would be to go to Africa to train local teachers and build schools,” says Hyokyung. “When I got here [Jasmin Child Care and Preschool], I saw kids from so many different cultures. It’s fun and interesting to learn about different cultures and values. I decided to work here because it’s a very unique environment.”
Jasmin Child Care and Preschool (named Fargo INC’s first non-profit of the month) was originally created to help New American children and families deal with the challenges they face as they integrate into American society. In the seven years they have been operating, the multicultural center has remained committed to the goals of embracing diversity and helping create access to low-income families.
“There is a huge need for this kind of daycare,” says Sky Purdin, Development Director of the center. “Sometimes the kids speak zero English when they first attend. Our programs are primarily in English, since the goal is to get them ready for a school environment, and our teachers are used to working with kids who may not know it. The kids don’t feel completely alone; there is a feeling of safety. They quickly learn English, and our English-speaking kids often end up learning another language. Also, cultures are different and sometimes there are things that are not easy to explain. By being culturally aware we can support a safe place to learn.”
At last count, there were over ten different cultures represented in the center, with nine different languages spoken by the staff.
Moving forward, Jasmin Child Care and Preschool would like to work with other schools and organizations to expand the value of a multicultural learning setting.
“It is clear that there is a need for culturally competent childcare as the Fargo-Moorhead area continues to grow with kids from many different backgrounds. America has a history of multiculturalism from its inception. By making a conscious effort to welcome newcomers we are benefitting everyone as they become an asset to our community and country,” continues Sky.
“Learning about different values and cultures helps kids be more understanding of other people,” adds Hyokyung, who is currently applying for graduate schools for international development education.
Unfortunately, providing a high-quality learning environment isn’t easy. With the COVID pandemic, most childcare centers have been hit hard financially as costs continue to rise, and Jasmin Child Care and Preschool is no exception. They have continued to struggle with staffing and finding funding for special initiatives.
“There is a lot of things that grant money just doesn’t address, so we have to come up with other ways to cover the gaps,” says Sky
One such initiative is the renovation of their center playground. With playground equipment worn down from continual use, many items are in urgent need of replacement.
In their efforts to update the Jasmin playground, they turned first to replacing the 2-foot slide with one more appropriate for their older children. They had raised two-thirds of the cost of the slide when Hyokyung applied for a grant from the local chapter of the Awesome Foundation. To her delight, the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation named her, and Jasmin Child Care and Preschool, their January grantee. The gift of $1000 will allow them to purchase and install the new slide.
Replacing the slide, however, is only the first step in the needed refurbishing of the playground equipment. In addition to replacing existing equipment, like their crawl tunnel, they would like to enhance their playground by adding sensory play areas and gross motor equipment, such as tricycles or a climbing wall.
Additional fundraising efforts are forthcoming, however direct donations are always welcome and there are always opportunities for volunteers
To learn more about Jasmin Child Care and Preschool, to donate, or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, you can go to jasminchildcare.org
Jasmin Child Care and Preschool
4720 7th Ave S., Suite E,
Fargo, ND 58103
The Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a non-profit. Applications can be made at awesomefoundation.org/ en/chapters/cassclay