A D.C. Trip for Refugee Youth
Aug 28 2023
This August, CWS summer intern, Abraham Mekonnen organized a memorable trip for refugee youth. CWS Harrisonburg staff and High School new arrivals were given a unique opportunity to learn about American culture and history while having fun.
The journey started at the Planet Word, a museum that engaged the children with interactive galleries and exhibits by bringing language to life. Stephanie Ramirez, a CWS staff member noted that the museum offered interactive experiences like karaoke and word games, making language exploration enjoyable.
“The whole experience was extremely rewarding,” Stephanie shared. “I got to know a few of the kids and hear their stories; it was nice to connect with them. The fact that CWS allowed us to share this experience was amazing.”
Lianna Gonzales, another CWS intern, was pleasantly surprised by the trip’s organization and ability to engage the students. She mentioned, “I got to see the new arrivals in action, which is something I don’t often witness in the office.”
CWS’ School Liaison, Deborah Wakilongo, detailed the itinerary that included a visit to the White House, an American art museum, and iconic landmarks like the Washington Monument. “The whole experience was really fun,” she shared. “Walking around D.C. and seeing things new arrivals usually only learn about in school or on TV was a unique and exciting experience. It’s different learning in a classroom compared to experiencing things firsthand.”
Abraham, who had been involved with the JMU summer camp for newcomers, explained that this D.C. trip was a fitting way to conclude the camp with an unforgettable experience. “We wanted to create a memorable ending,” he said. “Throughout the camp, we saw kids grow in their ability to communicate and make friends. Art became a powerful medium for them to express their culture and aspirations. The smiles on their faces when they arrived in D.C. said it all.”
He added, “For many, it was their first time seeing the Lincoln Memorial and other iconic sites. It was a great learning experience for everyone involved.”