March 10, 2013

Article: Language Barrier Is a Daily Struggle for Refugees in Tucson


Language barrier is a daily struggle for refugees in Tucson
By Patty Machelor
March 3, 2013

It's no surprise to hear Spanish spoken in Tucson. But in one local high school classroom, you're more likely to hear Nepalese.

And that's no aberration - Tucson and Arizona are among the nation's most common new homes for refugees fleeing violence or political unrest in their home countries. Over the past 15 years the state has ranked fifth per capita for refugee placements, U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and U.S. Census Bureau data show.

In Pima County, more than 10 percent of the 33,700 newcomers between 2007 and 2011 were refugees, Census Bureau and Arizona Department of Economic Security figures show.

To see our growing diversity, visit the office of Catalina Magnet High School ESL teacher Julie Kasper, where the students who pop in speak one of 40 languages or dialects - not just Nepalese, but also Arabic, Somali, Marshallese or Swahili.

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