International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Afterschool ESL Classes

In the diverse neighborhood of City Heights,  an extended school day provides precious extra hours of English Language instruction and practice for newly arrived refugee and immigrant youth.


 Student Spotlight  

I have learned through my hardships and life experiences that it is important to take advantage of opportunities that are available because not everyone in the world gets the same opportunities.

                                    --Elizabeth Okello

Elizabeth grew up in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.   Her dad is a refugee from Uganda and her mom is a refugee from Sudan. She is the oldest of seven children and the first in her family to finish high school.  She arrived in San Diego as a teen in the 10th grade. 

On Elizabeth’s first day of school at Crawford High, her teacher recommended that she attend the IRC Students Plus program for tutoring. Elizabeth is thankful for that teacher’s wise advice.

Elizabeth proceeded to stay after school every day for the next three years, receiving English, academic, and moral support from IRC staff and volunteers.

“For the past three years that I have been a part of the program, the IRC has been family to me,” said Elizabeth.   Her hard work and determination paid off; Elizabeth recently graduated as the valedictorian of her school.

Elizabeth currently attends UC Berkeley and she hopes to become a pediatrician.


Newcomer ESL Class at Monroe Clark Middle School: 

A partnership between the IRC and the Newcomer Center at Monroe Clark, PEER (Popular Education and Enrichment for Refugees) is an after school program designed to address the unique academic and social needs of refugee and immigrant students. With the help of volunteer tutors, PEER allows students to receive instruction based on English level, allowing for a more personalized learning experience. From reading comprehension to multiplication, from learning how to use the San Diego transit system to maintaining an urban garden, students are involved inside and outside of the classroom.  

The IRC Afterschool ESL Classes are part of IRC's Youth Programs. 

For more information, please contact Carolyn Smyth at








Back to the IRC in San Diego