On April 6th, IRC Silver Spring, in partnership with Play-well TEKnologies and Peer to Peer, brought 155 students and family members to the University of Maryland for a morning of LEGO-inspired learning. This was the second time that IRC has had the opportunity to team up with Play-Well TEKnologies to host a community building event for recently resettled families.
This past year, IRC in Silver Spring’s youth team has put a greater focus on post-secondary planning and college and career readiness through its New Scholars Initiative. This initiative, supported by the Scheidel Foundation, focuses on college readiness components for all youth and provides support families need to pursue their post-secondary goals.
While students regularly take trips to local higher education institutions, the youth team recognized the importance of engaging the whole family in student’s college and career planning. With the help of Play-Well TEKnologies, entire families joined in on the fun, rotating through stations learning about different academic areas such as Engineering, Health Sciences and International Relations all while playing with Legos! As universities can be intimidating to families, the event was created to provide a fun and welcoming environment to help break down some barriers that families see between them and higher education in the US.
Participants ranged from babies to grandparents, all excited to explore a new place and imagine a future at UMD. More than 40 volunteers helped to ensure the success of the event. Shivani Shah, the founder of Peer to Peer, a student organization at the University of Maryland that recruits, trains and places tutors in IRC’s after school and Saturday tutoring programs, shared about one connection. “One of mentors, Saul, spent over half an hour talking with a student’s father about his career. Saul is a computer science major and the father has over 20 years of experience working in IT in Afghanistan. It was so cool to see the two connect over their similar interests,” Shivani shared.
For many families, before arriving to the US, the idea of higher education was just a distant dream because of the disruptive nature of conflict. Visiting higher education institutions in their local community and having fun allowed families to visualize how that dream could become a reality.
The day would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors: Acuna Consulting, Riverdale Dental, and Moby Dick House of Kabob.