September 1, 2012

Article about Newcomers in New York


In New York, With 6 Weeks to Adapt to America
August 25, 2012

The Refugee Youth Summer Academy … was created for recently arrived refugees and asylum recipients. The academy, started in 1999 by the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement agency based in New York City, tries to help its students find a footing in their new country and prepare them for school.

This year, more than 100 students enrolled in the six-week program, which offered an academic curriculum supplemented by creative-arts classes, field trips and other activities. They hailed from at least 13 countries, including Nepal, Burkina Faso, Iran, Iraq and Cameroon. Some had been in the country for a couple of years; others, like the Diallos, had just arrived. They spoke at least 17 native languages. Some could speak and read English fluently; others could not write their own name in any language. Some had attended school in their home countries; others had never been in a classroom.

If there was any commonality in their experience, it was that their families had been driven from their homelands and were seeking a better life in the United States.

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