Education empowers achievement and Ascentria empowers people. Staff, volunteers, clients, and donors all play a key role in this effort.
Thanks to the generosity of 52 Lutheran churches that participated in Ascentria’s backpack drive at the 2015 ELCA New England Synod Assembly, and Lifesong Church in Sutton Massachusetts (MA), 298 youth being served at Ascentria will be starting the 2015 school year with a new backpack filled with school supplies. These backpacks will give children the tools and the confidence they need to be successful in school.
Some of the recipients of these backpacks are enrolled in Ascentria’s Refugee School Impact (RSI) summer program at the Client Center in Worcester, MA. Funded by the Office for Refugees & Immigrants, the RSI summer program promotes academic success, high school completion, cultural enrichment and integration of refugee students at the middle and high school level. Classes in English, math, computers and arts and crafts are taught to refugee children whose homelands include: Eritrea, the Philippines, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras and Guatemala. While the children come to the program speaking Kinyarwanda, Swahili, Nepali, Farsi, Turkish, Spanish and Arabic they are all very eager to learn new skills. In fact, when asked about their summer program experience, the students enthusiastically respond with shouts of “I want to learn English,” “computer class,” and “to learn more English and to write.”
Because of our dedicated and committed staff and volunteers, these students’ English and math skills have significantly improved and all the children have gained a basic understanding of computers.
Ryan McCurdy, a senior at Becker College in Worcester, MA, is also an Ascentria volunteer who has been working alongside Pabitra Neupane, Ascentria’s RSI Case Worker, at the summer program. With an interest in pursuing a career as an ESL teacher, Ryan chose to volunteer in our Services for New Americans program to gain general teaching experience. Volunteering for this summer program has helped Ryan to gain confidence as an educator. His advice to others: “If you are interested in folks coming into the country and you’re eager to help, they are eager to learn.”
Ryan fondly recalls the curiosity and the excitement of the children when they first visited the local public library. The children were so happy to be able to look at the books and were even more excited to be able to take some books home with them in their new backpacks.
All of our Ascentria staff, volunteers, and donors work together to strengthen communities by empowering people to respond to life’s challenges. Thanks to Ryan, Pabitra and our generous backpack donors, these children are now realizing new possibilities!
Pabitra Neupane and Ryan McCurdy