Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Currently on the NPR Website: Two stories about refugees and school--and both provide valuable insight into how a person's background affects life as a student.

New Refugee Students In NY Get Ready For US School
by The Associated Press

Photo, Associated Press/NPR

For their first fire drill, teachers at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy gathered their students, leading them out of the building to show them what to do during drills in the upcoming school year.

But one thing was missing: the sirens. They had been muted, for fear blaring alarms could trigger terror in children who recently arrived from war zones and other conflict areas where sirens can signal danger.

The silent fire drill was part of the balancing act for staff at the 6-week summer program that helps children who have survived wars and refugee camps prepare for a new experience — American public school.

It's not just about the academics, said Elizabeth Demchak, principal of the school run by the International Rescue Committee, which works with refugees and asylum-seekers.

For some of the kids, formal education has been haphazard or nonexistent, Demchak said. For others, school consisted of sitting and taking notes surrounded by dozens of others with a teacher reciting a lecture.

Preparing them means helping them learn how to go to school along with what they learn there.

To read the rest of the story, please click here.

To read or listen to the second story (listening to it gives a more authentic experience and may actually be easier to follow), please click here.

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