Asian Services in Action Launches English Literacy Class for Afghan Refugees in Akron and Cleveland

Akron, OH - Asian Services in Action (ASIA) is launching English classes for Afghan men on Friday, March 1. ASIA established the classes after the success of their Women and Literacy classes, which are English classes designed for Afghan women.  Those classes grew so popular among the students and their families that the men in the community expressed interest in having classes as well. These classes will take place over Zoom and in-person, and the first class of Men and Literacy is in person in Akron, Ohio for instructors to teach students how to open email and Zoom accounts. 

ASIA’s Bilingual Community Care Lead, Lida Ahmadi, was moved to support the Afghan refugee community, especially Afghan women, when she saw how the Taliban severely restricted girls’ and women’s rights to education and freedom back in Afghanistan. She came up with the idea of Women and Literacy classes in June of 2023 to instruct newly arrived Afghan women on basic English used for basic healthcare, grocery shopping, giving directions, personal introduction, and more.  These classes aim to help the women communicate with neighbors, doctors, and businesses in their daily lives, as well as to build their confidence in navigating life in a new country and culture.  

I first started women and literacy because I believe literacy empowers and liberates people, and I wanted to empower women beyond that," said Lida. “I believe we all have a right to accessible education. When I saw positive impact and how women were getting more confident and many people asked me about ESL classes for men, then I decided to start Men and Literacy.” 

Since the first class, twenty-five Afghan women have attended the virtual and in-person classes, with a student signing up from as far away as California. Many of the students had little to no English language comprehension when they arrived from Afghanistan after the summer of 2021. By the end of October, three students shared their life stories entirely in English at ASIA’s Global Cafe speaker series. 

"Women and Literacy helped me learn English and I am more confident speaking English now,” said Zainab, a current student. “I can go shopping alone and I am able to drive and use Google Maps and I am able to read the signs too. Before, I was not able to fill forms, but now, I can do that even if my husband is not able to go to appointments with me.” 

ASIA’s Men and Literacy classes aim to give Afghan men instruction of basic English used in daily life topics like health, work, and more. Classes will take place virtually to accommodate families without consistent vehicle access, with select dates for in-person gatherings to instruct students in English face to face as well as to host community events so that students can build relationships with one another and experience American recreational activities.  

The first class took place at 11:00AM on Friday, March 1 in ASIA’s Akron office, located at 370 East Market St, Akron, OH 44304. Ten students attended to set up their Zoom accounts, receive workbooks, and discuss the class schedule.  

For more information on ASIA’s Afghan Literacy classes, please contact Lida Ahmadi at 


ASIA is the largest health and human services agency that serves, supports, and advocates for the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community of Northeast Ohio. ASIA focuses on providing linguistically and culturally centered services for immigrants and refugees.  



PHONE: (330) 459-1173