Refugee Teens on the Air
For Nawal Adbirahman, a sophomore at Clarkston High School from Somalia, the prospect of a long summer out of school left her feeling restless. So she jumped at the chance offered by IRC Atlanta's Youth Futures to do a 60-hour internship that would allow her to build some skills and her resume.
Along with two other refugee teens, Tara Powdyal and Ram Kairola, both from Bhutan, Nawal was given the opportunity to serve at Sagal Radio a community-based non-profit organization in Decatur that broadcasts weekly radio programs in English, Somali, Swahili, Amharic, Afaan-Oromo and Bhutanese-Nepali.
Instead of pushing papers or a broom, the three teens were pushed in front of the microphone by radio director Hussein Mohamed. Their work became a radio program, "Hear Me Today: The Voice of Today's Teens," which broadcast during their internship period as part of Sagal's "New Americans" series.
During the radio show, the teens interviewed one another about their experiences coming to the United States, and their hopes for the future. Although all three teens learned English in their home countries, they each cite language barriers as one of the hardest challenges in their transition.
For Nawal, the internship changed not just her summer, but also her self-esteem. “I learned to have the courage to ask anyone anything," she says. "Before I was afraid to ask questions, but now I am confident enough to do it.” The Youth Futures internship also gave the "skills of a real job, like getting to work on time and being professional.”
This is the fourth consecutive year that IRC has made summer internships possible for refugee youth, and more than 100 students have been placed in over 30 sites, including businesses, non-profit organizations and public agencies.
As to the future, Nawal is planning ahead now "I am very excited to graduate high school," she says. "I really want to go to college so that I can be the first person in my family to go."
Listen to students’ podcast and view pictures of their time in the studio here.