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It's Back To School for Refugee Youth in NY and NJ

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The IRC in New York’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) just completed its 19th year. RYSA was designed to model the U.S. public school experience, empowering students to thrive in American school culture through immersion in American teaching styles and routines. Teachers and volunteers work with students in math, English, and social studies. RYSA offers a holistic and deeply supportive environment, with high teacher to pupil ratios and a student support team to help students develop their social and emotional skills. Field trips encourage students to learn more about their new home and facilitate friendships, which last well beyond the summer.

IRC RYSA students learning in a classroom.
IRC RYSA students learning in a classroom. Photo: IRC

In New York, the Academy is a six-week program in NYC designed to prepare refugee and asylee youth (ages 5 to 19) for the upcoming school year. IRC in NY staff and volunteers welcomed over 120 students from 34 countries, speaking 22 languages, to Battery Park City School. A third of these students have been in the U.S. less than 6 months, and more than half have been in the country between one and two years. The program in NYC was recently highlighted in a New York Times article and by PBS News Hour.

RYSA students celebrating the Spelling Bee contest
RYSA students celebrating the Spelling Bee contest Photo: IRC

In Northern New Jersey, the RYSA program completed its second year in partnership with Kean University. RYSA in New Jersey provides a supportive educational environment to refugee youth, predominantly from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. The Academy brought children now living in Elizabeth and Roselle Park to the Kean University Human Rights Institute from Aug. 7 to 25 for activities that include music, field trips, games, classes and more. Almost 90 children were able to participate in this year’s program. The New Jersey RYSA program was highlighted in articles by NPR, The Wall Street Journal and My Central Jersey.

To support RYSA in New York and New Jersey, click here.