Volunteer Development: Alief ISD Youth Programs
Sewa International's Partnership with Alief ISD started in 2013 with a very unique initiative known as the Language Institute for Newcomers (LINC) for highschool students of Elsik High School and Hastings high School.The Program (Language Institute for Newcomers) provides a quality education for high school students who are recent immigrants to the U.S. Students learn the English language while engaging in academic content knowledge and skills that prepares them for a successful transition to their main campus high school.
In the spring of 2014, Sewa International conducted a needs assessment among the teachers and staff of the ISD, determining a unanimous need for mentoring,developing a program where refugee and immigrant students can establish healthy relationships with young adult mentors who can relate with students personally and culturally. This program provides a supportive and safe learning environment and opportunities to accelerate and enhance student's linguistic and academic achievement while building self-esteem, respect and responsibility at school, motivation while acclimating to a new home.
Through the academic years, Sewa International volunteers continued to assist with the LINC program by volunteering in the classroom assisting teachers and providing supplemental assistance to students.The purpose of program is to help struggling students develop their language skills and acculturation to the US school system. Students enrolled in the program come from diverse backgrounds and/or have been in the United States for less than two years, some for only a few weeks.These students need patient and energetic tutors to work with them individually guiding them in the right direction.
Alief ISD - Olle Language Academy
Alief ISD is popularly known as the ‘International District’ as it comprises the most diverse group of students with varying ethnicities. The only major concern for the students in this district was the lack of English speaking skills.This was observed by the Principal of Olle Middle School who expressed a keen interest in joining hands with Sewa Houston to provide an after school program to her students that would encourage learning English ( reading, writing and speaking skills) . This program is named ‘Olle Language Academy’
Olle Language Academy is an after school club in which students meet on Mondays and Tuesdays after school between 4PM and 5PM to reinforce ESL concepts learnt by them in an engaging and interactive format. This includes painting , relay races, field trips, presentations etc. For many of the students this is their first year in the United States and this programs acts as a platform for them to learn and improvise on their English speaking and comprehension skills.
With 50 students registered in the first semester this program is off to a great start working with more than 40 students in each session. The Principal and the ESL teachers are on board with this fun learning process and work with volunteers of SEWA Houston to implement and execute the learning plan for the week.
Sewa International is a primarily volunteer-run organization, promoting service in the general community. As a part of the staff at the Houston chapter, Sewa International has 2 AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) working full-time to coordinate and develop the Refugee Empowerment Program.
The AmeriCorps VISTA program was founded in 1965 as a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and is a program that aims to reduce and eliminate poverty in the United States.