I walked through the maze of apartment housing, searching for signs of celebration. I had just come back from a graduation ceremony for not only one but 2 of my students, both sisters and both from Afghanistan. During the ceremony I sat next to the 3 younger children with their mother beaming proudly from the other end of the bench. I could see their father cheering below when his 2 beautiful daughter’s names were called.
I met this family in early spring. I remember standing in the parking lot with sleeping bags, luggage and 10 eager teenagers ready to leave for camp, when their father drove up with his 2 daughters Susan* and Samantha*. He unloaded their bags and spoke briefly with Adam – language was limiting for him. “We have never spent a night without them” he said. Their mother embracing them both with tears in her eyes she smiled at me and let them come with us.
The celebration was small and festive. I ate delicious food and met the few people they knew who lived in America. I had the honor of spending an evening with a family that barely knew me, but trusted me beyond belief. We are building relationships beyond our program, relationships that can lead to influence and mentoring.
What is amazing is how little it takes to make an impact on these students’ lives. Because of some logistical issues Susan and Samantha have not been able to attend many of our classes but still we have made a connection in the lives of their family and themselves. No one else is investing in their lives; it creates a vacuum that individuals can fill. We are using this gap in the students’ lives to create opportunities for them to build relationships with mentors.
We have seen so many doors open in the last three months. We just signed a contract with the largest school district in the Sacramento area to run programming for all of their refugee students in the summer school program. We have had three other school districts from across California contact us interested in our program, and another resettlement agency asking us to run programming for the refugee summer camp.
Thanks so much