Episode 3: Welcome to our podcast dealing with issues related to immigrants and refugees. In today’s episode, we are joined by Kevin Uyisenga, Eunice MuKaz and special guest Severin Barumunungu. He’s a teacher at New Comer Academy. We discuss See Forward Ministries’ program for Intellectual Balance and its partnership with New Comer Academy. The goal is to help immigrant and refugee children face and overcome some of their educational challenges.
Kevin and Eunice have walked this path themselves. Again, as we discussed in Episode 2, this endeavor is quite personal. For children who were able to begin their education in their home countries, the transition to the US educational system is full of challenges. It’s even more difficult for those whose education experience was disrupted.
One of the most basic challenges is having to translate English into their native language(s). New Comer Academy and See Forward Ministries provide support and help with English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
The Importance of Confidence
Severin discusses why confidence can be a significant challenge. New Comer Academy has approximately 800 students. For many of the students, everything is new. It can be a bit overwhelming. The Academy works closely with the students to evaluate their educational background and capabilities. They provide instruction in language and other academic subjects. Once they are able to help the students to gain a sense of confidence in their own progress and potential, they begin to learn more rapidly.
Kevin comments that some of the children, due to various conditions, were never able to have a traditional education. It was either interrupted, unsupported at home or even non-existent.
Partnering with New Comer Academy
Eunice discusses how they asked an important, first-hand question. “What is the thing we did not get during our transitions to the US?” This perspective quickly highlighted the need for an educational bridge. The instruction at New Comer Academy and the after school programs provided by See Forward Ministries resulted in a terrific partnership for many students.
Eunice explains that some students don’t actually know how to write their names. They can pronounce the name, but imagine trying to complete important paperwork for themselves or for their families, without this basic knowledge. It’s about providing the foundational experience through the ESL program.
What Is New Comer Academy?
Severin explains the focus of New Comer Academy. English-language instruction is extremely important, but they also work with students in the areas of reading, listening, speaking, writing, and more traditional subject matters. These include science, social studies and math.
Generally, after a year or so, the students are able to enter the Jefferson County public school system. Many of the students successfully complete high school and go on to college.
After School Programs at See Forward Ministries
See Forward Ministries understands the importance of re-enforcing the students’ classroom education. Many of these students are not able to get support from their parents, at home, because their parents may not have the language background or education. See Forward Ministries provides a place to help students with homework, computers and many other aspects of learning. This extra support can enable a student to successfully compete with other students.
Severin explains that many of the students, learning computers can be difficult. There’s not enough time in the classroom or at home, so the extra time they receive in the computer lab at See Forward Ministries provides an additional opportunity for the students to gain a better understanding and more confidence in their own capabilities. Again, the partnership between New Comer Academy and See Forward Ministries focuses on the students’ success.
You Can Help
If you have the time and interest, please consider assisting with the afterschool programs at See Forward Ministries. There is always a need for people from the community to spend time with students. It helps them to feel accepted. It encourages them to continue working hard. Those interactions also help with language skills. You can inspire a student to live up to his or her highest potential.
Challenges for Older Students
Severin and Kevin discuss how some of the older students already have jobs. Their motivation to continue their studies is less intense. He comments that those students can interact with others at See Forward Ministries to see how they can increase their income, as a result of education. Education is the key to long-term success.
We wrap up the episode discussing the impact this important partnership is making in the lives of immigrant and refugee children every day. If you’re interested in helping with this effort, as Kevin says, “Join Us!”
Visit the below website for more information about New Comer Academy
See Forward Ministries is a non-profit organization founded to be a bridge between those who are settling in our area and members of our community who may have an interest in getting involved, learning about different cultures and making this transition a little easier.
This podcast provides a platform for listeners to learn about this organization and the people who are involved with it. If you’ve ever thought about learning more about different cultures, this is an excellent opportunity. Please SUBSCRIBE to our podcast, so you get notifications each time a new episode is launched. Our plan is to launch a new one every 2 weeks.
Visit www.SeeForwardMinistry.com for more information. We’re also on various social media platforms. Let’s connect!