Amnesty International tutors student refugees

Amnesty international, a club that promotes the advocacy of human rights, works to better the community and bring people together through education. On Monday, Aug. 28, the club began a volunteer-based tutoring program for a family of refugees from Afghanistan. Peer tutors work the with the student refugees for hour and a half blocks Monday through Thursday at the Thousand Oaks Library.

Nivi Shaham, senior and President of Amnesty International, has already heard positive responses from the volunteers since the first day.

“The other tutors all said they worked really well with the kids, and that they really loved it,” Shaham said.

Tutoring for her first time, Kyla Law, senior, felt that the experience was very eye-opening and heartwarming.“It is really important to help anyone who is in a crisis by helping them in any way, especially with education,” Law said.  Law explains that although there is a difficult language barrier between the tutors and the refugees, she is able to find alternative ways to communicate. Surprisingly, Law found German to be the common language between her and the refugee family. Law also looks up words in Pashto, the refugee’s language, to translate into English.

Shaham also believes in the importance of volunteering and helping out others. “I think volunteering is great, because we are able to work with kids that we have never met before and who don’t speak English, so it’s a learning experience for (volunteers) as well,” Shaham said.

Only having volunteered twice, Law cannot wait for what the future holds for this program.  “Doing it next year and even the year after is going to be really exciting,” Law said.

Shaham hopes the program will expand in future years as well. “Hopefully we can even grow this into a bigger program, and see what other families cannot afford tutoring, and build it up from there,” she said.

Suha Hussain, junior, is the treasurer of Amnesty International and says that with the surplus on money in their account, the club hopes to help other families as well.

“We want to expand on our tutoring program at our school, and use the money to help the new kids if they don’t have as many supplies as they need,” Hussain said.

After talking to the refugee’s family, Law is grateful for this experience and believes more students should get involved in it. “Volunteering or tutoring, in general, really opens your eyes. I know I am thankful for our school system, but after seeing and talking (to the refugee’s family), I’m so motivated to do the best I can, because I have so many resources and a lot to be grateful for.” Law said.  

Shaham hopes this program will not only be about tutoring the refugees, but also about creating a support system for them. “I want the program to be able to build (the student refugees’) self esteem as well as their academic careers in order to help them grow further and faster and catch up with the students that are their age.” Shaham said.

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