A Special Thank You to UNCG’s Dr. Tom Martinek’s Dedication and Service to the CNNC

Dr. Tom Martinek is a professor of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has been with UNCG for over forty-five years and during his tenure he has researched the social and psychological dynamics of coaching and teaching. Dr. Martinek has also established several programs including Project Effort, the middle college, and Youth Leader Corps. Through these projects and programs, he has partnered with several community organizations and university programs and centers, including the Center for New North Carolinians.

Dr. Martinek has been a community-engaged scholar since the CNNC’s early days of inception when Dr. Raleigh Bailey was the director. Dr. Martinek has been valuable in the evolution of CNNC programs, especially with Project Effort and the development of the CNNC Community Centers.

Project Effort is an after-school sport and leadership program for underserved children and youth. The program focuses on providing young kids with the opportunity to learn values related to personal and social responsibilities. The goals of Project Effort include teaching young kids how to work effectively both independently and as a group. It also fosters an “I can” instead of an “I can’t” ideology. Project Effort promotes responsibility as a group through teaching others all while providing a safe and fun environment for children. The program has since evolved to allow former members of Project Effort to be mentors for its current members.

Project Effort has operated for over twenty-years. Dr. Martinek hopes the program will continue after his tenure at UNCG. Over the next few months, Dr. Martinek has focused on ensuring the continued success of Project Effort by creating an endowment and implementing a strong structural foundation for the program. He hopes the endowment will help provide financial support to graduate and undergraduate students to continue the mission of Project Effort. Dr. Martinek has also focused on cementing partnerships he has developed with several organizations throughout the years, including the partnership with the CNNC.

Dr. Martinek will be retiring at the end of the academic year, but he hopes Project Effort and the CNNC Community Centers will continue their two decade partnership. While Dr. Martinek will be retiring from his responsibilities as a professor, he still sees himself as remaining involved in the community.

Natacha Nikokeza, the CNNC’s Community Centers Senior Program Coordinator and long-time colleague and friend of Dr. Martinek, said she truly appreciates his “hard work and commitment to serving refugee and immigrant kids.”

We at the CNNC would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Martinek for his years of service and recent donation to the CNNC. We wish you a happy retirement and hope to stay in touch for the years to come.

Ashley Loper-Nowak
Graduate Assistant

If you would like to support the CNNC through volunteering or by donating, please visit this link.


Kathy Hinshaw: Honoring 20 Years of Service to the Local Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Kathy Hinshaw moved from Peru to Greensboro in 1996. After arriving in Greensboro, she enrolled in classes at Guilford Technical Community College to help her relearn English. A few years later, Kathy began working for the Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro. Unfortunately, the Center experienced budget cuts in the early 2000s and could no longer afford to provide Kathy with full-time employment.

Through working with the Women’s Resource Center, Kathy was able to connect with other local agencies and community organizations. One individual she met was Dr. Raleigh Bailey, the founder of the Center of New North Carolinians (CNNC). Dr. Bailey asked Kathy if she would like to work with the Immigrant Health ACCESS Project (IHAP) which she happily accepted. Part of her position with IHAP was to reach out to the local Latinx community to help them navigate the health system, including transportation, interpretation, and general health education. In addition to driving clients to doctors appointments and providing interpretation, Kathy also held workshops and training for health education. Kathy provided courses to her clients about health as well as exercise classes. Slowly, Kathy helped to foster an environment where clients found their confidence and connected with others, creating strong bonds throughout the community. Kathy stated that this was one of the programs she was the most proud of as she witnessed her clients becoming community leaders.

Eventually clients began confiding more in Kathy and raising additional issues they were facing especially regarding their children. For many families, it was difficult to help their children with school work since it was all in English. Kathy took this information to the local school districts where they collaborated to arrive at a solution. The local schools began to incorporate interpreters in the classroom and hired teachers who were bilingual. The CNNC provided additional support through a program called Tutoring on Wheels. Through this program, volunteers helped young students with their homework while also teaching parents–primarily mothers–English. The Tutoring on Wheels Program was eventually absorbed into the Community Centers where similar opportunities are available today.

Through her twenty years of working with the CNNC, Kathy has learned the value of actively listening to concerns and issues of others in order to develop an effective plan of action. Doing so allowed Kathy to successfully implement several programs with the CNNC which have since evolved to include the Community Centers, the Interpreter ACCESS Project, Thriving at Three, and Immigration Services. Today, Kathy mainly works with the CNNC Immigration Services where she provides assistance and access to those who are eligible to immigrate and are in need of immigration counseling. While she enjoys her current position, Kathy misses the direct and daily interactions with the local Latinx communities where she can watch families grow and settle into Greensboro. She hopes to eventually work more directly with the community again.

Kathy is proud of the work she has accomplished within the Greensboro community and wishes more people knew that while the CNNC’s core mission is to facilitate access to resources for the local immigrant and refugee communities, it is also a place to talk about issues that affect everyone in Greensboro.

Ashley Loper-Nowak
Graduate Assistant

Khouan M. Rodriguez: Celebrating North Carolina’s Longest Serving AmeriCorps Program Director

When Khouan M. Rodriguez came to North Carolina in 1995, she did not know many people and had limited professional connections. She realized that she needed to volunteer with an organization in order to connect more with the community and learn about available opportunities. She visited the Greensboro Buddhist Center and spoke with Pramaha Somsack Sambimb, the head monk, about volunteer opportunities. Pramaha Sambimb told her to meet with Dr. Raleigh Bailey- the first director and founder of both the AmeriCorps Cross-Cultural Education Service Systems (ACCESS) Project and the Center for New North Carolinians. Khouan applied for an AmeriCorps position with the ACCESS Project and was accepted to serve from September 1997 through August 1998 at the Greensboro Buddhist Center under the supervision of Pramaha Sambimb. Khouan signed up for a consecutive term but had to resign due to a challenging pregnancy.

During the summer of 2000, Dr. Bailey hired Khouan part-time to provide administrative support to the AmeriCorps staff. This was the same year the Immigrant Health ACCESS Project (IHAP) received its first funding. Khouan applied for the Lay Health Advisor position with IHAP and was hired in July 2000 to work with the Laotian community. In 2004, three years after the CNNC was incepted, Khouan was hired to be the coordinator of the ACCESS Project and later promoted to program director. Khouan has since remained in this position, making her the longest serving AmeriCorps program director in North Carolina. Furthermore, under Khouan’s leadership, the ACCESS Project received several recommendations from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service to compete nationally against other AmeriCorps programs across the country for funding. Khouan has successfully secured competitive-level funding for more than a decade.

Khouan has learned valuable lessons in her decades of experience and involvement in AmeriCorps. She advised that not everyday or even every month or year will be easy. There will always be challenges, struggles, and difficult times, but having a support network and knowing that these times are temporary and will pass has helped Khouan in continuing to support and serve others through the ACCESS Project.

When asked what she wished the general public knew about AmeriCorps, Khouan responded that she wanted more people to know that it is a wonderful way to give back to the community and that AmeriCorps demonstrates a commitment to serve. While Khouan acknowledged that there is a small monetary benefit in serving in AmeriCorps, she believed that the professional development opportunities and transferable skills many individuals develop while serving are the more valuable aspects the program provides. In some cases, serving in AmeriCorps has helped members decide on a career path. Khouan has seen former members become lawyers, teachers, social workers, and even doctors.

Khouan also believes that serving in AmeriCorps is a practical way of learning about different cultures. She elaborated and explained that serving in AmeriCorps allows people to connect with the local immigrant and refugee communities to learn and understand their plight and resiliency.

For Khouan, AmeriCorps allows for people to become the best version of themselves. Khouan noted how she sees the transformation in all who serve for AmeriCorps which has become a strong motivator in her commitment to serve as the CNNC’s AmeriCorps ACCESS Project Director.

Ashley Loper-Nowak | Graduate Assistant

Information on Afghanistan

Click here to learn more about Afghanistan.

Annual Report 2021

Read the full annual report here!

2021 At a Glance

Check out what the CNNC has been up to this year! Stay tuned for the full annual report coming soon!

Afghanistan Fun Facts


  • Afghan culture is centered around hospitality and respect. When hosting guests, Afghan people will go to great lengths to ensure their visitors feel honored and welcome.
  • Poetry is a cherished staple of Afghan culture. Afghans have shared their stories through verse for over 1,000 years. In the city of Haret, many gather on Thursday evenings to share modern and ancient poems, enjoy tea and pastries, and listen to traditional Hareti songs late into the night.


  • For centuries, Afghan cooking has been heavily influenced by surrounding cultures – predominantly Persian and Indian.
  • Of the multitude of spices used in Afghan cooking, the ones most often used are pepper, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and saffron.
  • Afghanistan’s national dish is Kabuli palaw.
  • Popular native fruits in Afghanistan include grapes, sweet melons, and pomegranates.


  • Pashto and Dari are the official languages of Afghanistan.

Interesting Facts:

  • The most popular sports in Afghanistan are football (soccer) and cricket.
  • The word Afghan was originally derived from “Asvakan”, which translates to “horsemen” or “horse breeders.”

Reflection: Third Annual Shifting Worlds Symposium

The CNNC hosted its third annual Shifting Worlds Symposium. This year’s symposium was titled “Engagement with Refugee and Immigrant Communities during a Pandemic: Collaborations, Challenges, and Resilience” and included sessions dedicated to discussing support and services accessibility to immigrant and refugee communities. The CNNC received nineteen proposal submissions from professors, practitioners, and students. Nearly two hundred individuals registered to attend the sessions throughout the day.

Dr. Sonalini Sapra opened the symposium by thanking all participants and attendees before introducing the first keynote speaker, Dr. Cristina Santamaría Graff. Dr. Santamaría Graff is an Associate Professor of Special Education, Urban Teacher Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her presentation was titled “Whose Knowledge Counts?: (Re)positioning Immigrant Family Voices in Higher Educational Settings.” In her speech, Dr. Santamaría Graff discussed her “Family as Faculty” (FAF) approach which challenges institutional hierarchies in higher education. Through this framework, Dr. Santamaria Graff explored ways to integrate community-engaged teaching in university and college classes by recentering the lived experiences and expertise of immigrant and refugee families.

Dr. Aurora Santiago-Ortiz was the closing keynote speaker. Dr. Santiago-Ortiz received her PhD from the Social Justice Education program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2020. In her presentation titled, “Anti-Decolonial Approaches to Community-University Partnerships: Collaboration, Collective Agency, and Solidarity,” Dr. Santiago-Ortiz explored the potential benefits of participatory research action (PAR) and how to apply this methodology to building relationships and collaborations between faculty, students, and community members. Dr. Santiago-Ortiz emphasized this approach as a way community-university partnerships can move towards reciprocal and sustained alliances. Dr. Diya Abdo closed the symposium by thanking participants, session chairs, attendees, and the keynote speakers.

Many of the panel presentations addressed themes similar to those explored by Dr. Santamaría Graff and Dr. Santiago-Ortiz in their keynote speeches. Several presentations explored new approaches of engaging with refugee and immigrant communities. These presentations examined the importance of easily accessible services including interpreters, therapy and mental health support, and cultural brokers who can navigate and “translate” cultural norms between communities and researchers. Each presentation introduced new methods, approaches, and ways of rethinking services for refugees and immigrants and how these methods can be applied to further engage with these communities.

Dr. Santamaría Graff and Dr. Santiago-Ortiz also led a workshop and provided suggestions to the CNNC’s “Guidance for Engaging Immigrant and Refugee Communities” document. In collaboration with researchers and practitioners, the CNNC Fellows and staff created a rubric as a starting point and guidance for engaging with immigrant and refugee communities. The purpose of this rubric is to suggest and encourage best practices for reciprocity and power-sharing between researchers and communities. These questions are not meant solely for vetting, but to encourage reflection about best practices for ethical engagement with refugee and immigrant communities.

Once again, we would like to thank the keynote speakers for sharing their knowledge and expertise, the participants for submitting exceptional presentations, the session chairs for helping facilitate the sessions, and the registrants for their time and participation.

We look forward to continuing these engaging conversations.

Ashley Loper-Nowak | Graduate Assistant

To view the sessions, please follow the links below.

2021 Shifting Worlds Symposium Program

Opening Remarks/Dr. Cristina Santamaría Graff Keynote Address
Session I
Session II
Session III
Session IV
Session V
Session VI
Session VII
Session VIII
Session IX
Session X
Duke University Student Panel
Closing Remarks/Dr. Aurora Santiago-Ortiz Keynote Address

Neighbors Helping New Neighbors

We would like to thank Hashim and Alexandra Warren for their contributions to the CNNC.

Alexandra Warren is originally from the DC-Maryland area. In the early 2000s, she decided to move and attend the University of North Carolina-Greensboro where she earned her graduate degree in dance. After graduating from UNCG, she relocated to New York where she continued performing and eventually met Hashim.

Hashim Warren, initially from Manhattan, is the son of a Jamaican immigrant. Being from New York—a state with rich immigration history—and watching his father serve his fellow neighbors in New York and Jamaica, Hashim grew up valuing and helping immigrant and refugee communities. After Hashim and Alexandra met, the two decided to move back to Greensboro, North Carolina to raise their family. Hashim now works as a product marketer and web developer and Alexandra is an assistant professor of performing arts and the artistic director at Elon University.

The Warrens have been back in Greensboro for about a decade. Alexandra stated that Greensboro has always felt warm, welcoming, and like home. Hashim agreed, adding that he was impressed with Greensboro’s rich immigrant and refugee history and citing the Triad as one of the “New Ellis Islands.”

The Warrens have always been engaged with Greensboro’s community, but at the start of the pandemic, they recognized that they wanted to do more. Part of this realization stemmed from their daughter’s school project about how to be better neighbors. With Alexandra’s connections to UNCG and Hashim’s immigrant background, the Warren’s viewed the Center for New North Carolinians as a “natural and organic” way to continue their involvement in the community.

Alexandra and Hashim embody their philosophy of “neighbors helping neighbors.” They have generously donated resources to the CNNC to help support refugee and immigrant families. The Warrens have also raised donations and provided funding for a fence to be built around the community center so children can safely play. Additionally, Hashim and Alexandra have graciously sponsored 20-family memberships to the Greenhill Center for North Carolina Art, located in the Greensboro Cultural Center. The CNNC is forever grateful to Alexandra and Hashim Warren.

If you would like to support the CNNC through volunteering or by donating, please visit this link.

Ashley Loper-Nowak | Graduate Assistant 

Thank you Donna and Betty for your donation!

The CNNC would like to thank Donna Newton and her sister, Betty, for their recent donation.

Donna Newton and her sister, Betty, donated a quilt designed by Elsie Sjuwe. The quilt depicts a group of young children playing on a snowy tundra. Their bundled faces portray carefree spirits and happiness as they toss one of the children in the air using a large blanket.

For Donna, the quilt represents true childhood innocence and joy, qualities she wishes we kept as adults. She believes the artist “wanted to capture these qualities for posterity.”

According to Donna, Betty loved to travel, meet people, and learn about the cultures of the world. For Donna and Betty, the beauty of the quilt represents the beauty and humanity of the world, its cultures, and all future generations of people. For the sisters, the quilt provides a sense of hope and light when the world seems cold, bleak, and despondent.

When asked why the CNNC should be the new home of the sisters’ beloved quilt, Donna responded saying that the CNNC “is the perfect place for this [the quilt] in celebration of all cultures and children everywhere.”

The quilt now hangs at the front entrance of the CNNC. When we here at the CNNC walk past the quilt, we are reminded on the innocence, joy, and hope the people of the world and its future generations can bring.

We are forever grateful for Donna and Betty’s donation.

If you would like to support the CNNC through volunteering or by donating, please visit this link.

Ashley Loper-Nowak | Graduate Assistant