Refugees Services and School Preparation

by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

Above, a staff member helps a young girl with homework after school.

Tarana* is a bright, determined 18-year-old. She is also an Afghani refugee from Pakistan. She arrived in Syracuse just two months ago with no English skills and limited formal education.

CYO Summer Academy students pose after their graduation ceremony.Starting a new school as a teenager is undeniably challenging. Doing so in a new language and culture is more so. But Tarana is determined to succeed.

Before starting high school, Tarana was enrolled in “Academy” at the CYO (our Refugee Services Center). Academy is a month-long course designed to help youth like Tarana make the transition into American schools. It includes English language classes and introduction to American school culture. For refugee youth, many of whom have spent years in refugee camps, formal schooling conventions are unfamiliar. Tarana learned quickly. As Case Manager Lydia Andrews helped Taraba get to high school on her first day, Tarana showed off her English. She said “Hello! How are you? Good morning,” and, finally, “From CYO.” Her new knowledge, she meant, had been gained through the Academy program.

Refugee Services staff have been impressed by Tarana’s resilience. “She’s eager to take advantage of the educational opportunities she’s heard are available to her in the American system,” says Lydia. “Similar opportunities were difficult for her to access in Pakistan.”

“She has already grown so much in just a few weeks of class and life in America,” says Lydia. “We look forward to hearing more about her success.”

*name has been changed

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