Summer ESL Classes in Charlotte

It’s summer break, right? Well, as much as we’ve got going around here, “break” might not be an appropriate term. There’s lots of planning, drafting, sewing, writing and photography happening. Here’s a look at what’s in the works:

  • Citizenship Class

  • First off, we’re excited to announce a pilot citizenship class for refugee moms in Charlotte.  This idea came from talking to some of our artisans about citizenship classes. Several of them have been here the requisite five years and can legally take the test. BUT…it’s not an easy process, requiring reading  & writing in English, an interview with an immigration officer, and the clincher being a test covering a possible 100 questions.  (Lest you sniff at this, try to pass the citizenship test yourself! Many Americans don’t know all the stuff our newest citizens know about the country.)

For these moms, attending an evening class is hard for various reasons and many of the daytime classes don’t welcome lots of children. Some women would prefer to be in a female-only environment. Finally, all of the citizenship classes for refugees in Charlotte are centered on the east-side, and that’s not where some of the ladies live. Based on this feedback, we decided to launch a pilot citizenship class in North Charlotte to address some of these barriers.  We’re going to meet in a volunteer’s home and ALL children are welcome. It’s going to be in the morning and for women-only. Finally, we’re going to break out in to small groups based on the student’s knowledge and English levels.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s truly just a pilot. We won’t be  full-fledged course  and definitely won’t be taking the place of the excellent citizenship classes offered through the resettlement agencies. We’re just exploring how to expand and build off of the vibrant refugee work being done in east Charlotte, as gentrification begins disperse refugee families to other parts of the city.

Interested in volunteering if & when we hold more ESL & citizenship classes in north & west Charlotte? Send us a line at to be put on the list.

New Carpet Purses

Thanks to the ESL + Sewing class this spring, our carpet bag inventory has greatly increased! Because many of the bags are made from donations & remnants, there’s often just a few bags in each fabric style. It takes a while to get them all quality-checked, photographed and listed on the Persona Grata Goods Fair Trade Store.

Here’s a lineup of some of our latest bags, several of which are the only bags available in that particular fabric. (We had a lot of small remnants donated this year, so some carpet purses are COMPLETELY one of a kind.)

Travel Bags, Bike Bags, Diaper Bags & Wheelchair Bags

We’ve had  a lot of positive feedback on our carpet purse collection, particularly the crossbody Journey bags. Through this feedback, we’ve decided to make some changes to our fall/winter purse line-up. The details are still being worked out, but the plan is to continue with the vintage carpet bag feel, adding new functionality to the bags, as well as sourcing more sustainable materials.  Some of the purse ideas that are in the works include:

  1. Mary Poppins Diaper Carpet Bags
  2. Travel Carpet Bags, possibly monogrammed
  3. Bike Pannier Carpet Bags
  4.  Stylish Wheelchair-friendly Purses
  5. Cork Purses

What will actually be available this fall? Well, that’s hard to say because we’re still drafting, planning & sewing. If you’re interested in getting a sneak peek (and testing opportunities) for these new bag prototypes, make sure to join our email newsletter.

And that’s it! Stay tuned for summer reading book reviews and another edition of the Brave Women blog series.

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