Baba Ly

For more than a decade, Baba Ly worked in diverse professional settings in multiple countries including the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania - his native country.

Since immigrating to the U.S., Baba has been deeply involved in supporting immigrant communities. He has volunteered and worked for non-profits, including Catholic Charities of Maine, and public schools to support immigrants’ cultural, social and economic integration in Maine. This includes JFON (Justice For Our Neighbors), LearningWorks where he taught ESOL students, Portland High School where he assisted teachers in coaching immigrant students, the Opportunity Alliance where he was involved in Head Start’s Dads Alliance, and Hope Acts where he was a board member.

In Mauritania, Baba worked at the U.S. Embassy as the Economic and Commercial Assistant for four and half years. During that time, he was awarded the Meritorious Honor Awards in 2010 and 2011 and the Mission Honor Award in 2012 for his exceptional work ethic and performance. Baba is a University graduate. He earned two Masters Degrees which one was earned in France where he lived for a year.

Why Starting Ethics

Back in his childhood, Baba went to elementary school learning how to read and write in a language that was not his first language. Arabic was the only language that all first, second and third graders had to learn literacy and other age appropriate skills. Literacy in native language was introduced to him when he was nine years old and French when he was 11 years old, since Pulaar was not used or taught in middle and high school.

He struggled a lot to learn the skills he needed early in his childhood because he couldn’t understand Arabic or French; and living with a mom, illiterate in her own native language made his learning struggle even worse.

Teachers were from his own ethnic and language background, and who had the same learning experience were totally dedicated to supporting him and his classmates to overcome these challenges. For Baba, getting lost in a classroom just became a norm in his everyday learning experience. However, the extra support he got outside of regular school classes was key to his successful education.

For many reasons including the lack of English language acquisition, low level of education or even being illiterate, the immigrant parents may assume that the school system is sufficient and is well equipped to guarantee the success of their kids. They feel that they are not needed and don’t have to be involved in their education.

On top of this, the shortage of appropriate resources for English Language Learners in schools and their teachers who themselves are unfamiliar with these student learning styles and cultural background, significantly increases the failure rate of immigrants students in the U.S. public schools.

These are the particular reasons ETHICS wants to help bridge the gabs between immigrant students, school educators and their parents. This program will bring extra tools to this most vulnerable and disadvantaged young population will help boost their learning ability, increase their confidence, and empower them.