TUTORS Aids Refugees Beyond Literacy Skills

by Erica Mundell and Jayme Farris

The Transylvania University Teaching and Outreach to Refugee Students program was founded as a way to help refugee children become acclimated to their American environment. Created by junior Vika Safarian, TUTORS makes this transition easier by having Transy students travel to tutor refugee children after school.

The main goal of TUTORS is to ensure that these students have as equal a chance of being successful in America as a natural-born citizen. Many Transy students have found this to be a very rewarding experience.

“It is just amazing, knowing that you are helping someone outside of yourself that really needs it,” said sophomore Katie Aultman, vice president of the organization.
The members of TUTORS wish to see the program grow even further and better its efforts to aid refugees. They have already begun to redouble their efforts by reaching out to refugee families as well.

Recently, TUTORS volunteers helped a family from Nepal settle into a new home.

“We sponsored an apartment setup through Kentucky Refugee Ministries for a really young Nepali couple and their 2-year-old daughter,” said junior Debi Hickman, president of TUTORS.

On Jan. 29, the group held a fundraiser outside the Wal-Mart on Saron Drive to raise funds for apartment supplies as well as to raise awareness about Lexington’s refugee community and the efforts of KRM. The groceries and supplies were purchased prior to the family’s arrival.

The members of TUTORS prepared the apartment for the family on Feb. 5, and the family arrived on Feb. 9.

“We met them at the airport with KRM. KRM is responsible for helping families get established in Lexington,” said Hickman.

KRM helps pay for rent and food and provides job skill training and English as a Second Language classes for newcomers so that they can become independent.
TUTORS members are planning to stay involved with the family by helping them learn English and babysitting, among other services.

For students wishing to become involved with the TUTORS program there are many opportunities available in the next months. TUTORS is always looking for more student volunteers to travel to elementary schools and tutor.

“We can never have too many people tutoring,” Aultman said.

The program is aspiring to have one-on-one tutoring for each refugee child.

In March, TUTORS will be sponsoring a book drive for the International Book House, which is based in Lexington. This program delivers books in good condition to schools in developing countries on every continent.

Students can also participate in the TOMS event being held on April 5. Before spring break, TUTORS will send out a discount code for Transy so that students can order a pair off TOMS for $5 off.

“We would like for everyone to bring their new TOMS to the Style Your Sole Party,” said Hickman. “(April 5) is actually the Day of No Shoes, where people are encouraged to walk with no shoes all day in solidarity with the many who live each day without shoes.”

TUTORS decided to sponsor this event because many of the countries that TOMS serves, including several in Africa and South America, are the home countries of the students they tutor. The event will take place in Rosenthal Commons and will involve the showing of a documentary and decorating TOMS.

“I hope that we have a lot of people come so we can take time to think about our fellow human beings who are not granted the same blessings as us and what we can do to help some of them just by purchasing and wearing a pair of shoes,” said Aultman.

Hickman said that she wants to see TUTORS continue to grow in size and scope.

“I think TUTORS has a really bright future on this campus,” Aultman said. “As long as people are interested in helping someone else in life, groups like TUTORS will grow.”
For more information on how to get involved with TUTORS, contact Debi Hickman at dlhickman12@transy.edu.


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