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Unajisikia Aye UKARIBISHO/KUKARIBISHWA Wako? Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Unajisikia Aye UKARIBISHO/KUKARIBISHWA Wako? Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project (VRSAP). Dianne L. Mallory Office of Newcomer Services Virginia Department of Social Services Coordinators’ Technical Assistance Academy Virginia Department of Education July 30, 2013.

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Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project


Dianne L. MalloryOffice of Newcomer Services

Virginia Department of Social Services

Coordinators’ Technical Assistance Academy

Virginia Department of Education

July 30, 2013

Virginia refugee student achievement project vrsap
Virginia Refugee StudentAchievement Project (VRSAP)

  • Administered through the Virginia Office of Newcomer Services (ONS) in the Department of Social Services

  • ONS administers the federal refugee resettlement program for Virginia

    • Managed by Kathy A. Cooper, state refugee coordinator

  • ONS is 100 percent federally funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)

Virginia refugee student achievement project vrsap1
Virginia Refugee StudentAchievement Project (VRSAP)

  • Funded by an ORR discretionary grant

  • Serves eligible refugee children ages 5 to 18

  • Eligible refugee means asylees, secondary migrants, unaccompanied refugee minors, Amerasian, Cuban/Haitian Entrant, Afghan/Iraqi with special immigrant Visa, and victims of human trafficking

Virginia refugee student achievement project vrsap2
Virginia Refugee StudentAchievement Project (VRSAP)

  • VRSAP services are provided by the Virginia refugee resettlement agency staff known as VRSAP school liaisons.

  • Virginia has sixmajor refugee resettlement regions.

  • There are eight school liaisons covering these major regions

Who is a refugee?

  • A person who is unwilling or unable to return to his or her country of nationalityor habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.



  • Relatives

  • Economy

  • Future



  • Oppression

  • Persecution

  • Discrimination

  • Exile

  • Safety threats

  • War

  • Ethnic intolerance

  • Religious intolerance

Approved USRAP Admissions 2013


Central Asia


East Asia


Near East/

South Asia


Latin America/





Unallocated Reserve……………….. 3,000

Total Possible Arrivals for 2013…….70,000

  • FFY13 Virginia Projected Refugee Arrivals = 1900

Potential School Challenges

  • Insufficient previous education

  • New language

  • School placement

  • Credit count  graduation?

  • Dropping out due to family pressure

  • Difference in discipline and family dynamics

School Personnel Considerations - 1

  • Cultural differences

  • The role of parents

    • Academic motivation

    • Perception of teachers’ authority

    • Awareness of the importance of education

      • Homework, places for studying

  • Treatment and expectations of boys and girls

    • Boys are expected to get an education

    • Girls may be expected to marry

  • Play styles

    • Friendship is based on physical play (boys)

    • Sports are not for girls

School Personnel Considerations - 2

  • Reaction to discipline measures

    • Smiling when being disciplined (to ease tension)

    • Avoiding eye contact (respect)

  • Religious

    • Practices and holidays

    • Dress (PE class)

    • Diet restrictions

School Personnel Considerations - 3

  • Roles of children in family

    • Respect; submissiveness

    • “Cultural brokers”

    • Caretakers / housekeepers

    • Interpreters

  • Nutrition and health

    • Meal regularity

    • Knowledge of nutrition basics

    • Novelty of junk food

    • Questionable nutrition from ages 0 to 3

School Personnel Considerations - 4

  • Extended family and community

    • Support relatives abroad

    • “The baby is yours while it’s in the womb, once out it belongs to the community.” (Burundian saying)

    • Neighbors and friends may be considered family

Actual incidents in virginia schools
Actual Incidents in Virginia Schools

  • An Iraqi boy is suspended for pushing other boys during PE class.

  • A Burmese girl misses school due to her duties in church.

  • A Congolese middle school girl is bullied for not using deodorant.

  • A teacher finds a roach infestation inside a Nepali girl’s school bag.

  • A Nepali high school student is bullied for wearing pink clothes.




Family Dynamics

  • Arranged marriages

  • Hinduism  Caste system  socialization

  • Basic education

  • Community raising

  • No questions


Family Dynamics

  • Hygiene (spitting)

  • Make up/piercings on children

  • Male > Female (job, income)

  • Strict school system  Rebellion on arrival



  • Shake your head to say “yes”

  • Take your shoes off to enter a home

  • Walking behind a person you respect, not next to them

  • Kissing, hugging and cuddling in public

  • Sharing food that has already been bitten

  • Using your left hand to eat, touch, or pass an item

  • Touching someone’s head



  • FFY13-14 anticipated arrivals

  • Family is the heart of the community

  • Ongoing struggle for women’s rights

  • Gender roles defined by cultural norms

  • Direct communication

  • Importance of names

CONGO Caseload Characteristics - 1

  • Family size can range from 1 to 14 – extended model

  • 55 percent under age of 18

  • High rates of PTSD observed due to extreme cases of SGBV

  • Skills – farmers, traders, teachers, and office workers

  • Nearly 60 percent speak no English

CONGO Caseload Characteristics - 2

  • Exposure to “modern” amenities

  • Most common health conditions: tuberculosis, hypertension, HIV, vision problems and heart disease

CONGO Caseload Characteristics - 3

  • Almost all over 18 have had some formal education (self-reported)

  • Most children have had some primary school in the refugee camps

  • Many children’s education interrupted by conflict

  • Physical discipline common



  • Greeting warmly (touching)

  • Open emotions (not PDA)

  • Eye contact

  • Sexual health topics = taboo

  • Excess praise



  • Disagreeable behaviors are most likely being misunderstood.

  • Assist your refugee students in the process of acculturation. They will slowly understand your expectations and take social cues from their peers. You don’t need to memorize this presentation!

  • Ask your students about their culture; share with class if they are “ok” with this.

  • Use professional interpreters.

  • Keep in mind children’s resilience.

  • Stop a moment and put YOURSELF in their “shoes!”


  • KNOWthat students in your schools could be refugees.

  • VRSAP School Liaisons are your LINKSto working with refugee families.

Vrsap school liaisons
VRSAP School Liaisons

  • Will:

    • Give workshops and trainings in your schools

    • Speak at “off hours” meetings in your schools

    • Assist with organizing parent conferences

    • Be your expert information resource about refugee students and their countries of origin

    • Be “cultural brokers” – your real-time LINK


Dianne L. Mallory

VRSAP Grant Manager

[email protected]

(804) 726-7935

Website: www.dss.virginia.gov/family/ons

Thank you!