Why this works….

As everyone settled into summer, there was no question that we still had work to do. The six future college students settled into twelve days of intense training to practice those skills necessary for college.

First, we discussed the difference between high school and college. Exploring how different the orientation of college really was. There would be no teacher badgering to have them move forward or to remind them of upcoming assignments.  Time management would become a major focus. Get it wrong and your grades will suffer. These topics face every student. Now we moved into something deeper.

We needed to discuss issues that are unique to refugees.  More than discussing, we needed to practice the necessary skills that enable a refugee to successfully engage in a classroom setting.  Two issues rose to the forefront.

How would you handle the situation where you are not being understood by your professor or your peers?  I want you to understand how challenging this situation is for students. Not being understood is embarrassing, frustrating and humbling. It can result in isolation and withdrawal. We choose to practice this situation. We acted out the scenario in one on one dialogue. We talked about the reactions of those who could not understand us. Some might laugh, some might pretend to understand and others might simply ignore. This was pretty challenging material. Our students jumped right in navigating the murky waters of direct communication.

Even more difficult was the situation of not understanding others in the class. How do deal with a situation that you might confront for the majority of the time you spent in class? Frustration arose when we discussed the importance of understanding what others were saying. Group projects are incredibly important. So is the level of participation that is key to active learning. How do you handle this situation again and again?

There is no one correct way to handle such complex situations. Instead, each student came away with several options comfortable to them.

Why this approach works… 

This twelve-day session was a success because the Bootcamp was

  • based on small group work
  • contained students who were moving into a new situation
  • established trust and a willingness to see each other succeed
  • confronted real difficulties directly
  • based on role playing and active engagement skills
  • allowed each person to share both strengths and weaknesses
  • we had plenty of food for lunch!


Please reach out and help support this important work. Please consider donating to the Writing Partnership. We are 501 (c) (3). All donations go directly to support the educational opportunities for refugees.  Please donate at www.writingpartnership.org.

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