Friday, November 27, 2009

Refugees at the Walters

Hello and happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone!  I'm sure you are all still digesting your turkey, like I am.  Recently, I have been lucky enough to work with and teach refugees at The Walters.  In years past, The Walters has worked with Baltimore City Community College's Refugee Youth Program (RYP), an after-school program for refugee youth at various Baltimore schools that helps them with learning English, homework, and generally fitting in.  In addition to RYP, The Walters also worked with the HOPE program, another after-school refugee program through the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

I taught children from both groups, and had a WONDERFUL time!  They are so joyous and eager to learn, despite all they have gone through in their young lives, and their enthusiasm is infectious.  They are also a challenge for me as a teacher, as they have some behavior/social custom issues as well as low English levels.  Working with them is a great opportunity for me to grow as a teacher.  I usually work with preschoolers, and to work with the refugees I had to learn techniques and skills for teaching second language learners, which is totally new for me.  I think I did well when I put them into practice with my students, and I hope I was able to help them learn new words in English and have fun with art!

These pictures are all from the HOPE visit.  The RYP students have been in this country, as well as coming to The Walters, for several years now and have fairly good English levels.  However this was the first year at The Walters for the HOPE students, and many of them had very, very low English levels as well.  They were so excited to be at the museum, though, and were super well-behaved.  I was teaching a younger group with some of the lowest English levels overall.  They didn't say much and I'm not sure whether I really got through to them or not.  We looked at the Heroes exhibition and talked about monsters.  Afterwards, we went downstairs and made our own collaged monsters.  They really got into the studio project and did a great job with their monsters!  We colored coloring sheets and took pictures afterward, and whenever someone would finish a coloring sheet they'd bring it to me and I would point at the different colors and have them repeat the names of the colors after me.  They loved taking pictures, and all in all I think they had a great visit.  I can't wait to work with the Refugees again, I learn just as much from them as I hope they do from me, and it feels like I'm doing something helpful and good for these refugees as they try to make a home for themselves here in America.

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