Refugee Students Adjust at APA

In addressing needs of refugee students, Austin Peace Academy re-commenced its ESL program in 2016-2017 and intend to do so for the coming academic year.  The ESL Program is a three-hour immersive program in which the students in small class sizes receive direct instruction to improve their conversational, reading, and writing skills.  To continue with such a program comes at a considerable expense.

Additionally, all newly accepted refugee students attend free of cost, as we truly believe this to be part and parcel of our mission in providing an Islamic school education to those who want and need it.

Funds raised will offset costs of refugee students' tuitions and allow for increased improvements to the ESL opportunities offered at APA for these students.

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From war-torn countries and through ardious journeys, families struggle for the sake of hoping to find a safe haven, a place for their children to grow up and thrive.  For few, this dream begins to form into a reality when they step off the plane into the United States.   Adjusting to life in America however can be difficult -- different language, customs, religious majority, and all around culture.

In Austin, with the rapidly increasing refugee population, groups are popping up across the city to meet needs, but cannot do so fast enough.  At Austin Peace Academy, we take this as a personal responsibility, and while we cannot take in every student we would like due to resources, we take in the few we can and provide them with the means to adjust to life in America.

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Whoever grants respite to someone in difficulty or alleviates him, Allah will shade him on the Day of Resurrection when there is no shade but his.
(Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1306)

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With the culture shock of coming to a country half-way across the world, there can be a small comfort found in becoming part of a school community in which students quickly empathize with your struggle, invite you in, and hold similar values and beliefs as you.

Students in the ESL Program begin with an immersize program and then as their skills improve (quickly, for many), they are placed in different classes with their schoolmates outside of the ESL program.  This purposeful placement in classes allows for these ESL students to receive differentiated instruction and individualized learning plans.

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Taking in refugee students is nothing new to APA.  It has been part of its efforts for the last decade and has witnessed many success stories since, Alhamdulillah.

- One student joined Austin Peace Academy High School as a refugee, quickly learned the language and developed a strong command over it such that he won a UIL tournament as a top speaker soon after.  This student is now in college, pursuing a degree in the Health Sciences.

- Another student joined Austin Peace Academy High School and graduated.  She continued on to offer talks regarding her experience as a refugee and now attends University of Houston.

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Each of these students have impressed and continue to inspire us with their resilience and willingness to learn and adjust to life in America.  They each make a committment to themselves and their communities to do the best with what they have been given.   Most now consider this country and the Austin community as home and want to continue on to be the best version of themselves.

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Lena Zohny 
Organizer
Austin, TX
Austin Peace Academy 
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