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Students Tutor Refugees for Success

Posted Nov. 21, 2011 | Jessica Smeltz
enter photo description
Nay, 10, and Herokate, 3, laugh alongside their tutor
Kristin Mulchay, junior international relations major.

Photo Credit: Jacob Byk

The typical refugee that steps on American soil is supported by the United States government for three months before being turned out on their own. While this is sufficient for some, many struggle thereafter to fit in and truly become a part of the American culture.

Kent State students are looking to help smooth out this transition for refugees by volunteering their time home-tutoring. Many of the refugees are not proficient in English, let alone what to expect in day-to-day life in America. With the assistance of the Refugee Response Organization, students travel every Monday for a minimum of two hours, as part of the Refugee Response Home Tutoring Program. Twelve students go to Lakewood, Ohio, to the homes of refugee students to tutor them in several different subject areas.

Lane Forthofer, sophomore in middle childhood education, began volunteering for the program in spring of 2011 and has never looked back. Forthofer tutored throughout the summer and has continued her volunteer work this semester. She has helped multiple families adapt to American culture and has had the opportunity to learn about new cultures herself. The program provides a great cross-cultural learning opportunity for all involved.

“Overall, the experience is great,” says Forthofer. “It is very interesting and beneficial to immerse myself in another culture, as well as serve others that need my help.”

The tutors follow The Refuge Response (TRR) curriculum guidelines for teaching the refugees English as a Second Language, and are expected to also help familiarize the students with American culture and customs. Anyone is welcome to apply for the in-home volunteer position for the spring semester and can either apply through The Refugee Response website or by email to Ann Gosky, senior special assistant at Kent State University.

“The students are bright, talented and excited about learning, and this program is designed to encourage them and assist them in reaching their potential,” says Gosky.

For more information about Kent State’s refugee tutoring program, contact Gosky at agosky@kent.edu.