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2020 Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) Volunteer

Start date: July 27, 2020

Background/IRC Summary:  Since 2011, the IRC has resettled hundreds of refugee youth to Elizabeth, New Jersey. The trauma of being forced from their homes, prolonged separation from loved ones, displacement, language barriers and poor or lapsed education compounds the academic challenges faced by refugee youth. IRC currently works with over 100 refugee students enrolled in 17 Elizabeth Public Schools, as well as 4 Roselle Public Schools, with new students arriving each month. IRC’s youth program works in collaboration with schools and families to overcome barriers and promote the academic and social success of refugee students. 

Job Overview/Summary: In August 2020, the IRC in New Jersey will host a three-week summer program focusing on English as a Second Language (ESL) enrichment for refugee youth living in Elizabeth and Roselle, New Jersey. The Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) will serve up to 90 students ages 5 – 20, in six classes, from at least 10 countries. Students will engage in ESL, creative arts, sports, field trips, and other activities. RYSA volunteers will work closely with the ESL Lead Teachers, clinical psychology doctoral students to reinforce English language learning and school preparation with refugee youth in a positive and healing classroom environment.  

At all grade levels (kindergarten, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12) RYSA volunteers will assist with guiding a self-contained classroom, supporting English literacy and ESL instruction through various subject matter (i.e. US History, Health, etc.), and facilitate other specialized activities such as art or music. Each RYSA volunteer is expected to support the ESL Lead Teacher and psychology doctoral student as they implement a culturally and age-appropriate curriculum for a class of approximately 15 students. Given the varied English levels and formal education experiences of the student body, the RYSA volunteer must be flexible and comfortable with using various methods for teaching English Language Learners. Throughout their classroom activities, RYSA volunteers will be expected to contribute to the program’s goals of fostering students’ English competence and social-emotional development.   

All applicants must be older than 17 years old.  

Position Term and Hours: July 27-July 31: 20 hours of training and preparation (dates and times TBD) 

August 3 - August 21: 9:00 am-3:30 pm (excluding weekends) 

Major responsibilities:

  • With direction from the ESL Lead Teacher and Education Specialist, assist with the implementation of a culturally and age-appropriate curriculum using student-centered teaching methodologies for English Language Learners at all school levels 
  • Gather and organize student data for monitoring and evaluation purposes 
  • Reinforce positive classroom management of student behavior 
  • Provide support to ESL Lead Teacher and psychology doctoral student, including facilitating small group work with students 
  • Ensure the classroom environment is welcoming, nurturing, and supportive to refugee students and promotes trust and self-esteem building 
  • Engage in daily debriefings with Education Specialist, Youth Coordinator, Operations Coordinator, and other staff 
  • Assist with daily operations including student arrival and dismissal, lunchtime set up/clean up, and Friday field trips 
  • Collaborate effectively with classroom volunteers 
  • Act as a positive role model for students and staff 
  • Comply with all agency policies and protocols

Job requirements:

  • Rising high school senior or undergraduate student pursuing a degree in education, psychology, social work or a related field 
  • Experience providing academic instruction or tutoring services to youth, especially for English Language Learner (ELL) students 
  • Cultural competence and cross-cultural or overseas experience desirable 
  • Experience working with refugee and/or immigrant populations desirable 
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team 
  • Second Language proficiency in Arabic, Kiswahili, Pashto, Dari, Farsi, Urdu, or French desirable 

Working Environment: Travel is necessary to accompany students and staff on field trips.   

Click here to apply and indicate "RYSA Volunteer NJ" in the top three positions field.

RYSA students having fun with an IRC volunteer.

Photo: Mason Levinson

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