JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – The Hoosiers help from the bottom of their hearts and rings true for the kids at Camp Atterbury as well. With their first day of school last Tuesday, teachers volunteer their time each weekend to teach English and help with math.
One of those teachers is Sara Jallal, who is a full time fourth grade teacher at Bloomington. Having immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan at the age of five, Jallal spends several hours teaching and translating for refugees.
Jallal admits that his immigration story is very different from that of the children in his class – all between the ages of five and 13. She described how these children fled the only home they knew, while still being positive and eager to learn.
“I felt 100% completely connected every time this all happened. It was really hard on my family and I and we felt a little helpless because we are living this blessed life here, we have so much and we are safe, ”said Jallal. “Me, being Afghan and able to speak the language with them, I feel like it helps a bit to bridge the gap, where they don’t know English very well, then I can speak English and Dari with them. , then help them learn English. “
To help with this, their free teaching materials are in Pashto, Dari, and English so children and adults can learn both and be independent. That way, when the kids move to a more permanent school, they will have some English under their belt.
IU researchers said giving refugees access to educational materials and a trusted adult is extremely important in these types of traumatic and stressful situations. For example, Jallal translates for Afghan women because they don’t feel comfortable asking men.
“Education in emergencies like this, like the environment at Camp Atterbury is so critical that it has in fact been called the fourth pillar of humanitarian aid,” said Elisheva Cohen, doctoral student. researcher at IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. His experience is in the education of refugees, in particular.
“When people think of humanitarian aid, they think of food, shelter, water and medical care,” Cohen said. “But research shows that education itself saves and sustains life and children need and want it.”
Cohen has taught in Jodan, Morocco, Egypt and the United States. She “saw the value of education with her own eyes.”
“Especially in these emergencies, education – and I mean very largely right – programming for children and youth is so important in providing a sense of normalcy to help students or help young people deal with problems. trauma and to maintain intellectual stimulation, ”Cohen said. Because right now: “All sense of normalcy is gone and there is also a lot of fear and worry for whoever is being left behind. “
Jallal keeps coming back to teach, and she hopes that soon it will become something part-time.
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