refugee-children-learning

Language and Play Lead to Confidence and Success

In programs, Stories, volunteers by Alyssa Abell

Every Wednesday at Small Projects there is an activity for the little ones in our community! Kids aged from about kindergarten through primary school come to play, where they can gather and develop their social and communication skills. They speak freely in Arabic with each other, while French, English and Turkish float around the learning space as well! Volunteers and kids alike speaking multiple languages create a safe and enjoyable atmosphere to grow social and communication skills for our community.

Recently, there were about 7 volunteers with the local children during kid’s fun time. I have to say that the room was filled with a lot of noise, smiles and cheerful chaos which brightened up my day after a long day at work. The kid’s fun time usually focuses on an art project or interactive game of some kind, thought-out by one of the dedicated volunteers. On this particular day, the kids worked diligently to complete the task of decorating and building 3-D model houses topped with cotton balls for snow. I helped a little boy complete his house while giving directions in beginner Turkish, meanwhile, he was talking to his pal and another volunteer in Arabic and words in English were used occasionally to talk about colors, numbers, and greetings.

Education in a foreign country as a displaced person can be difficult to access because of financial constraints and language. barriers. Kids at SPI are being given a place to practice and use their developing language skills in a free-thinking and accepting environment full of compassionate people from various backgrounds and nationalities that want to help create a welcoming and safe space. This judgment-free space cultivates confidence in the students to participate in school and to perform at the same academic and social levels as their Turkish peers.

Children like my activity day partner grew up into the life of a displaced family who struggles with common stresses about immigration, working status, language barriers and cultural barriers. He is a child who is being given an opportunity to practice his language skills and more importantly play at a young age while getting the support of his local friends and bonding over their shared language and values to create a sense of home.

Written By

Alyssa Abell

Copywriter - Volunteer Educator