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Schools Rule: Refugees adjust to Lansing education

Schools Rule: Refugees adjust to Lansing education
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:31 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Children from more than 7,000 miles away are now students at the Lansing Public School District.

They’re refugees from Afghanistan who left the country after the Taliban took over. Now, these brave students are adjusting to life in Michigan.

More than 100 children and teenagers were enrolled. Many of them don’t know how to speak English, which can be a challenge.

“We have many schools where our children come in with not even knowing how to say hello and amazingly, in two or three months, you start to see the students becoming more social because of the opportunity to learn the language,” said deputy superintendent of special populations Sergio Keck.

Most of the students speak either Faarsi or Arabic at home, but there are more than 65 languages spoken in the halls of Lansing schools. That’s why Keck said the school’s bilingual education department is so important.

As a former English learner, Keck said he knows all-too-well the importance of keeping parents in the loop.

“I know how easy it is to trick your parents into saying, ‘Everything is going okay, mom,’” Keck recalled.

But it’s not just about bridging the language gap. Keck said bridging the cultural gap is just as important. That’s why the district will hold a family event in which parents and students are invited to the school and then be fed to break their fast for Ramadan.

“We try to support it to make sure that they know, ‘Hey, we know where you’re from. We try to know who you are and we accommodate our services to support you,’” Keck said.

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