By Cindy Wu, Mosaic Formation
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about half of all refugees in the world are children, and about half of these are not enrolled in school. Access to education is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, and unfortunately for so many refugee children, this goal will be out of reach or delayed.
When a child’s education is disrupted by displacement, it can take years to recover. Children often resume their studies in a new language, with peers quite different from them, and with a drastic change in family resources. Taken together, these factors can take a psychological toll, intensifying the struggle to integrate. This has devastating long-term effects for a generation of children. The odds of attaining higher education fall even lower for refugees as educational pursuits are superseded by financial realities.
My own children have enjoyed a combination of private, public, and homeschooling. We have options, and we take them for granted. In my vocation I have interacted with refugee students in a variety of community programs. I am sometimes heartbroken by their struggles, but more often, I am inspired by their resilience and accomplishments. They remind me of my own immigrant parents, who were motivated by the understanding that education was vital for success in the United States. I’m grateful for every mentoring program that empowers refugee students, and my hope is for more community volunteers to invest in the lives of refugee children for they will help us navigate a diverse and complex world.