This week began our Summer School Refugee Life Coaching class. It was great to be able to speak into the lives of 36 students as we took over their English Language Development (ELD) class for an hour. The class was made up of primarily refugees from the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq). We also had refugees from Moldova, Russia, Rwanda and immigrants from El Salvador and Mexico.
This presented us with a unique problem, for the first time we had more the 5 languages other than English that were being represented in the class. This diversity of students highlights the strength of our program. We are able to mold it and use it even in this situation.
For those who are not familiar with our program or what we do, we have started running a life coaching program with students ages 14 to 24. Raquel and I came back from Africa with a passion for helping refugees, and since then we have brought the program into the refugee youth community. The program was developed with meta-study research on what skills healthy, successful people have. We mix in media and games, as well as personal life stories to better connect with the students. As we are vulnerable the students open up allowing us to build better relationships and speak into these students lives.
As we use provide our program for refugee students, several of their specific needs are met: first the opportunity to practice English in a practical manner, second it allows them to learn the culture of success their new home, and finally it is designed to also be a college and career prep program. With such a wide spectrum of needs being met, the non-profit we work with also runs this same program with, at-risk, homeless, elementary and leadership students.
We are having an amazing opportunity to speak into the lives of our refugee students and help them feel welcomed in their new home. This has been a yearlong effort to get our refugee program into the public schools and we are excited to see the culmination of this year’s hard work pay off with our Summer School class.