Last week, as part of University School of Milwaukee’s Community Engagement program, 9th grade students met with young refugees who have resettled in the Milwaukee area, as well as adults who work for local nonprofit agencies that serve refugees. The visiting refugees met with small groups of USM students to share how they came to the United States, what their life was like before resettling, and the challenges they and their families have faced, and also answer questions.
USM students have been learning about refugees for the past two months, including the difference between an immigrant and a refugee, the process one goes through to receive refugee status by the United Nations, and how some refugees end up resettled in the United States. They also learned that Milwaukee is home to the largest group of Rohingya refugees (from Burma/Myanmar) in the United States. Students were joined by USM alumnus Max Levy ’14, as well as members of SEA Literacy, which provides academic tutoring and cultural mentorship of refugee children.
About the Community Engagement program USM’s Community Engagement program educates students about issues that exist in Milwaukee and in many other parts of the country. The program builds awareness of the many needs in the Milwaukee area and encourages them to develop their own ideas about how to make our community better for all.
By understanding more about their community and its problems or issues, students have a better sense of others’ needs, learn about their community, and build empathy. They also learn about nonprofit organizations where they can complete community service hours required for graduation, and some will find issues that motivate them to action that goes beyond completing the required hours. Students who find themselves particularly interested in issues presented in community Engagement are encouraged to pursue the Service Leadership transcript distinction in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.