by Ann Abbott
This student's anecdote shows several things. First, she has come to understand the full range of programming that her community partner offers, not just the little slice she sees during her two hours of office work during the week. Secondly, she has found statistics that put her work--and the community partner's--in the broader context of rapid demographic changes. Finally, she shows that she understands the reasons why parents cannot always meet their children's academic needs; some students reinforce stereotypes, blaming the parents or perceiving that they simply don't value education.
The Refugee Center's Saturday morning tutoring program is one of our foremost efforts to engage refugee and immigrant families in the local community, while utilizing a strong base of University Illinois volunteers. The need for our program is rapidly growing; according to the US Census Bureau, immigration to Champaign County has grown by over 30% in the last 7 years alone, and this rate is likely to increase. Also, children are becoming a larger proportion of these new arrivals, as families are reunited with parents who came to the US in search of economic opportunities. However, many new immigrants and refugees do not have time to help their children with homework, since they often have to work several jobs to ensure the economic survival of their families.Our Saturday morning tutoring program provides a safe, fun, and educationally enriching environment to help engage these children in our community.