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New American Africans Youth Program

by New American Africans
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
New American Africans Youth Program
Saying  goodbye to Ayi
Saying goodbye to Ayi

 

All too often, students lose academic ground over the summer.  This is especially true for students who are still learning English and whose parents often do not have strong English language skills.  New American Africans steps in to try to minimize this slippage by meeting students where they tend to congregate, at a park in the neighborhood where many families live, and bringing books to them.

We come with lots of books, at many different reading levels, plenty of good food, a basket full of board games and a cadre of host community volunteers.  New American youth read out loud to a host community student who received training on how to ask probing questions that ensure comprehension.  They move on to playing games, all the while speaking in English.  Friendships are made and our youth coordinator has a chance to check in with students, catching any issues before they have time to build into problems.  At the end of the program, those students who were faithful participants went with us to Gunstock, a local ski area that has an adventure park open during the summer.  Students and volunteers had a chance to test themselves on a treetop aerial adventure course.  They took full advantage of the mountain roller coaster, the bungee jumpers, and the kayaks.  While this was another chance to practice speaking English, it was heartwarming to see some of the older, more established new American youth step up to make sure that newcomers who still have very limited English could fully participate and have great fun with the whole group.

Frank is one of the older students that we can always count on.  His English has improved dramatically; he liked to read the sports pages from the New York Times during our literacy sessions, eagerly absorbing new vocabulary.  Like so many of the youth with whom we work, only his mom received a visa to come to the United States as a refugee; his dad is still in Africa.  His goal is to do great in school and then he wants to train to be a plumber.  He intends to earn enough money to buy a home for his mom because that is what he knows she deserves.  Concord, NH is lucky to have him in our community!

Our trip to Gunstock marked our last day with Ayi, our youth coordinator for the past two years.  He is moving on, getting reading to apply to graduate school.  We will sorely miss him, but we look forward to seeing all that he accomplishes.

Frank, at Gunstock
Frank, at Gunstock
Getting ready for the treetop adventure course
Getting ready for the treetop adventure course
Reading with a volunteer
Reading with a volunteer
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Sylvie, volunteering with gardeners
Sylvie, volunteering with gardeners

The process of acculturation is long and complex.  The end goal of successful acculturation is not to become just exactly the same as someone whose family has been living in the U.S. for generations; rather, when done well, a newcomer feels at home in two cultures.  She can access what is advantageous about American culture, but she does not give up those traits from her culture of origin that make her whole.

Sylvie is a young woman who demonstrates that it is possible to be fully bicultural.  Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, she arrived in Concord, NH in January 2015 as a refugee.  She is now a Junior at Concord High School.  She takes Advanced Placement science classes and is an active member of Be the Change, a high school club that works to build bridges between students of different cultures.  She has friends from Africa, Nepal, and Afghanistan, and she has friends who were born right here in Concord.  Through NAA, she has begun the process of visiting colleges; the college that is lucky enough to enroll her will be richer for her presence.

Youth acquire language far more easily than do most adults.  Working with Africans presents significant challenges because of the language barrier.  We work with individuals who speak more than 20 different first languages.  Sylvie is instrumental in helping us bridge that language barrier.  We hold monthly African Council meetings, bringing together new Americans who want to have a voice in shaping their future.  Sylvie has served as one of our translators.  She is deeply respectful of African elders and is well regarded by the community.  Concord is home to a low-income community garden that serves many refugee families.  Sylvie volunteers her time to serve as a translator there as well.  Because of her, Sycamore Community Garden Project can communicate with gardeners as they register.  It is a joy to watch her move so smoothly from interacting with African adults to interacting with the host community manager of the garden.  When thanked, she always says, "I am so happy to give back!"  We are so happy that we have Sylvie in our community.

Visiting Amherst College
Visiting Amherst College
Speaking at an NAA fundraising event
Speaking at an NAA fundraising event
African Council meeting
African Council meeting
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The Award-Winning Jacques!
The Award-Winning Jacques!

Research on resiliency in kids all point to the same thing: one or more adults who are constant, consistent and concerned can make a world of difference to a child.  Jacques is a middle school student, resettled to Concord, NH, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He arrived with his two siblings and his mom, and then he found himself facing a myriad of challenges.

Learning a new language and determining how to make good choices in a very new cultural milieu is challenging.  Jacques connected early on with Ayi, our Youth Coordinator.  Jacques is a very sweet, soft spoken boy who wants to do well – socially, academically and athletically.   With no positive male role model in his life, Ayi knew he could make a difference if he stepped in and invested time in Jacques.  They strengthened their connection this past summer when Jacques was a regular at our literacy program.  He was one of the kids we could count on for quickly settling into his work, and then going on to beat just about everyone playing Connect 4.

Jacques and Ayi spend time together at school because he takes advantage of our after-school program in the middle school.  Because we partner with the district, we can provide homework help and conversational English support in the school, knowing that the program provides transportation home.  Generally, three days a week, Jacques sits down with one of our volunteers and gets his homework done. 

One passion that Jacques and Ayi share is soccer.  Ayi is so proud of Jacques for taking some of the skills that makes him good at soccer – concentration, an ability to be coached and a willingness to work hard – and applying them to the Rundlett Wrestling team.  At the end of the season, Jacques won an award from the coach for his outstanding contributions to the team.  Now that the wrestling season is over, we would love to see him put his athleticism to work in our dance class! 

Hanging out with his wrestling buddies.
Hanging out with his wrestling buddies.
Lots of food for every event
Lots of food for every event
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Fun at the dance class
Fun at the dance class

Enoch first came into one of our after-school programs in May 2016.  He had been in the U.S. for less than a week, having lived most of his life in a refugee camp in Rwanda.    He spoke no English and barely made eye contact with most of us.  Fortunately for him, he was not facing the extraordinary journey of acculturation on his own: his aunt and three cousins also live in Concord.  With his cousins serving as his cultural liaisons, and through support provided by New American Africans after-school programs, Enoch is now a thriving high school freshman, making great leaps at school and feeling quite comfortable in his new home.

As all educators know, students tend to lose reading skills over the summer.  This problem is acute in families where the parents do not read in English.  Students like Enoch, resettled in the spring, do not start school until the following school year.   NAA helps to fill this gap through summer literacy programming.  In 2016, we offered a reading group targeted to middle schoolers.  New American and host community students read Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate.  This story of a Sudanese 5th grader coming to terms with his new life in Minnesota gave our students a chance to practice reading.

Enoch was not trying to keep reading skills: he needed to gain sight words and begin to build his spoken English language skills.  Because he was in a program geared specifically to newcomers, he was able to participate.  His cousins read the book to him, translating as they went.  During our book discussion, he could serve the role of the expert, confirming many of the challenges described in the book.  Host community students saw in him a knowledgeable person on the topic they were discussing.

During the summer of 2017, NAA tried a different format for our literacy program.  We matched new American youth with an older host community student.  Our youth read out loud to the older student, and then all of them played board games, basketball and soccer.   For the new Americans, it was a chance to keep up with reading and to keep their English language skills strong.  At the end of the program, we all went to a tree-top aerial adventure park.  Enoch again participated, this time without needing his cousins for translation support.

When our dance program resumed with the new school year, we were so happy to see that Enoch, once a painfully shy boy, was now confident enough to join the class.  He is a happy, thriving youth.  NAA is proud of the role that we played in supporting him as he transformed into a bilingual, bicultural youth.  He now has the skills needed to work with us in the same leadership role that his cousins once took for him.  We truly thank you for the support that you give us that allows this programming to continue.

Our new dance instructor, Avid Tumaini
Our new dance instructor, Avid Tumaini
Summer reading
Summer reading
good friends feeling comfortable at school
good friends feeling comfortable at school

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Justine
Justine

New American Africans’ youth program is thriving.  This summer, we have watched how careful intervention and support can give young people the boost needed to become their best possible self.  The growth we’ve seen in two youngsters helps to illustrate the possibilities that open when generous donors ensure that we can continue to employ a youth coordinator.

Both Justine and Jacques are relative newcomers to Concord, NH, arriving here as refugees from Congo.  Justine is going into 7th grade.  She is a frequent participant in our African dance program.  There, she spends time with friends, moving easily from Kinyarwanda to English, as she builds a strong relationship with Ayi, our youth coordinator. 

In March, the University of New Hampshire’s summer youth science program contacted us, looking for promising students who might benefit from two weeks of residential camp, building STEM skills while having all fun associated with a summer camp.  Because Ayi knows both Justine and her family, he was able to gain the support of her parents, getting them on board with the idea of a young girl going off from her family.  Justine, a very strong and capable student, was thrilled with the idea.  In July, she spent two weeks speaking only English as she built and tested miniature rockets, worked on real life chemistry problems and had an all-around wonderful experience.

Jacques is about to enter middle school.  His 5th grade English Language Learner teacher is concerned about his literacy level.  She knew that the NAA was planning a summer literacy program and contacted us to make sure that we included him and several others who were moving on to middle school with low literacy.  Jacques is a very sweet kid who lives with his mom and several siblings.  He does not come from a culture of literacy, and thus he would not be apt to read often during the summer without outside support.

Jacques came weekly to our program.  Each week, he had a chance to read a ‘just right’ book, one that would challenge, but not frustrate him.  He read out loud to a youth volunteer.  When he stumbled on words, our young volunteers would help him, asking questions to ensure that he understood the new vocabulary.  After that, he could spend time playing board games with both new American and host community youth.  Because we had host community members working with us, all conversation had to be in English.  He went with us to the ocean for the first time ever.  Next week, he will take part in our end of the program activity – a day at a high ropes course.  He and all of the other participants and volunteers are super excited as they look forward to a day of pure fun.

When Justine and Jacques return to school in a few weeks, they will be able to work with Ayi and his team of high school student volunteers.  Justine was a regular participant last year.  Because Jacques built a strong relationship with Ayi this summer, he too is apt to join our after-school program, getting the support he needs to prosper.  We can’t thank you enough for the generosity that makes all of this possible.

Jacques, reading with a host community volunteer
Jacques, reading with a host community volunteer
A day at Plum Island
A day at Plum Island
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Organization Information

New American Africans

Location: Concord, NH - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Carolyn Musyimi-Kamau
Program Manager
Concord, NH United States
$15,425 raised of $20,000 goal
 
153 donations
$4,575 to go
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