Graduating from the Refugee Youth Summer Academy 2011
"Be proud of who you are, where you come from and what you are about to become" - these were some of the opening remarks given by the IRC in New York’s Executive Director, James Lenton, as he addressed the Refugee Youth Summer Academy's graduating class of 2011.
Over 100 refugee children and youth, ranging from the ages of 5 to 19 and stemming from countries such as Burma, Guinea, Nepal and Tibet participated in the 6 week intensive Refugee Youth Summer Academy designed to prepare students to succeed in New York City schools through a supportive and creative learning community. For the second consecutive year, the Summer Academy found its home in Bushwick, Brooklyn on the grounds of the Bushwick School for Social Justice and on August 12th, its auditorium was filled with IRC students, parents, teachers and volunteers cheering on the new graduates.
Commissioner Fatima Shama, of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, honored the audience with her presence as guest speaker for the event. She praised the Summer Academy graduates and their parents for their courage and achievements, encouraging everyone to have a voice in their community as she continues to ensure that every newcomer to New York City feels at home.
For many students, the Refugee Youth Summer Academy was their first experience of an American education program - some have had the privilege of a solid education prior to their arrival in the United States, while others have never stepped inside a school before. In spite of their differences in cultural background, religious beliefs, language and educational paths, the intense bond created between each student during the Academy will set the foundation for their adjustment to their new life in New York City.
The IRC in New York would like to thank EVERYONE involved in the 2011 Refugee Youth Summer Academy, especially the volunteer staff made up of assistant teachers, peer counselors, physical education teacher, adult ESL teacher and the amazing Artists Striving to End Poverty creative arts teachers. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Alejandro, ASTEP site coordinator at the Academy; and last but by no means least, the invincible Refugee Youth Program team: Khadijah, Sara, Ava and Eleanor. Kudos to all for putting together such a smashing program!
Click here to view a snapshot of the Summer Academy Graduation which aired on NY1.