Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Archives for December 2011

Refugee Voices

This month’s success story is about Jon[1].  Jon is a 14 y.o. young man from Haiti who arrived in the United States after the catastrophic earthquake in January 2010.  Jon’s life in Haiti was not easy. He lived with his parents and the sister in very modest conditions. His parents are illiterate, and Jon can barely read in his native language, and he doesn’t know how to write in Haitian Creole. His school attendance in Haiti was sporadic and the educational background was quite week. After the earthquake, the family lost all their belongings, and Jon had injuries requiring hospital treatment in United States.  Jon was enrolled in school shortly after his arrival in the United States and  he had a very hard time adjusting to the American school system without any knowledge of English language and limited literacy in his native language.

Jon was enrolled in our Refugee Youth and Family Program (RYFP) for assistance. RYFP assists students that have been granted the status of refugee, asylee, or Cuban/Haitian parolee with improving their academic success and overall adjustment to life in the United States.  Our goal is to provide refugee youth with the opportunity to build a better future for themselves by providing tutoring services, social/cultural educational activities, and being the link between the school and the parents. In addition, RYFP offers refugee students experiences for developing positive peer relationships, learning about their community through positive out-of-school time activities, and chance to be kids again all the while practicing their English in a safe environment. Jon needed the services of our program because he felt isolated in his new country, and was struggling academically in school. Jon received many of program services and participated in many of the program activities. Jon was part of the program for 17 months.

Jon had to overcome many obstacles to become a success. He had to learn English, learn how to write, and pass to the next grade level. Jon was receiving tutoring and homework assistance on weekly basis from one of our Youth and Family Specialist (YFS) during the 2010-2011 school year. During this time, Jon improved his English language abilities to a point of being able to communicate in English at a very sufficient level.  To encourage Jon’s work with the RYFP tutoring, his school considered it as the extra credit which helped the client to get a passing grade in mathematics and be promoted to the 8th grade.

Jon also participated in many cultural/educational field trips where he had a chance to interact and become friends with the kids from other cultures, witness and learn about the American culture and society, and become more outgoing and less insecure. For example, Jon had a chance to visit the Kennedy Space center and learn about NASA and the American space Program and its achievements.

Refugee Youth and Family Program and Jon’s case manager worked collaboratively with the school to insure Jon’s success. YFS set up regular meetings with the guidance counselor and teacher to discuss Jon’s academics including developing a plan for after his completion of RYFP. With YFS and guidance counselor collaboration Jon was enrolled in many school tutoring activities. He will receive in home tutoring twice a week, ELP tutoring at school every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, starting November;   math and grammar tutoring every Saturday at school, starting in December, and a before class math tutoring every morning if he needs help with math homework. Jon will also continue to attend the Boys and Girls club for positive out-of-school time activities. YFS wanted to be sure that Jon will continue receiving all the help needed to excel academically even after he will no longer will be part of RYFP.

Jon did improve significantly during his participation in RYFP. From a very shy boy who could not say a word in English, he became a more confident young man who is able to express his thoughts in English. This doesn’t mean that he is not facing anymore challenges. He still has difficulties in some school subjects, but his understanding of the subjects and the school system allow him to work on his homework and make better use all the help he receives from his school and the community without the need of additional help from RYFP.

[1] The name was changed for privacy purposes.

Soccer unites refugee children in Tampa Bay

Our Refugee Youth and Family Program was featured on Brighthouse Sports Network. Check it out here!