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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Books for Recently Arrived Refugees and Immigrants

Photo courtesy of Devin Desjarlais, United Way of the Greater Triangle

By Rob Callus, World Relief, Program Manager for Refugee and Immigrant Services, and Kenna King, Youth Services Intern

World Relief is a global non-profit that provides resources and assistance to the vulnerable, and the Durham office specifically provides comprehensive services for recently arrived refugees and immigrants in the Triangle area. With a focus on providing assistance to whole families, our Refugee & Immigrant Youth Services (RIYS) program works with the Durham Public Schools system to provide tutoring, mentoring, social-emotional and mental health support, and summer enrichment programs to youth in the refugee and immigrant communities of Durham. The academic portions of RIYS emphasize the importance of literacy in education, establishing it as the centerpiece in all other lesson topics like math, history, and science lessons. Our staff and bilingual assistants depend heavily on books, especially bilingual books, as they are an easy way for instructors to engage their students and provide materials to assist students both inside and outside of the classroom. In such a time as COVID-19 when it is harder to connect students and instructors, World Relief is so grateful for our partnership with Book Harvest as they provided over 300 books for our youth to stay connected to their learning goals.

In addition to the kinds of resources we receive from community partners and volunteers, World Relief staff employs a team of Bilingual Assistants who provide multilingual instruction to our youth by integrating English with their home languages of Arabic, French, Swahili, Pashto, and many others. This is important because not only does research show that primary language literacy leads to competence in other learned languages, but our Bilingual Assistants also provide a sense of familiarity for our students in an environment where they lack role models with whom they can identify.

You can learn more about World Relief Durham’s Youth Services program and organizational impact here.

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