Sometimes it can be overwhelming to realize the incredible challenges that still await our refugee families after they arrive in the U.S. Many struggle to learn everything from how to turn on the oven to how to ride a bus or pay bills while also worrying about finding a job and learning English. In spite of all of these struggles, I am continually impressed by the value placed on education. While some parents have never attended school and others arrived with advanced medical degrees or Ph.D.’s, all consistently and immediately inquire about school for their children, clearly seeing it as a key to a better life.
As a former teacher, I love seeing the kids anticipating their first day with a mix of apprehension and intrepid excitement and then hearing them describe just a few days or weeks later how many friends they’re making or what their teachers are like. Although I have worked with at-risk youth before, I am continually impressed at how resilient children can be and how their happiness is immediately transferred to their parents. Seeing their children settle into their new community is clearly comforting for parents, who often proudly inform me of the new games their kids are learning in PE or how often they attend tutoring sessions at the Refugee Transition Center in Kent.