Writing program helps refugees reach American dream
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 25, 2006

Sarah Sevier

Door by door, student by student, Americorps member Jennifer Smith rounds up teens living in a largely Liberian refugee apartment complex. Writing class is about to begin.

"They give us the words and then we have to look at the words and make a sentence out of it," explains Samuel Williams, student.

The "Write Away" program, Smith's creation, teaches creativity and self expression, familliarizing students with English. For the students here, it's a very foreign language. "Completely regardless of what their English proficiency is they all try. They're eager to learn and they have a great voice and a great story to tell," says Jennifer Smith, Americorps member and the program's founder.

"Growing up in America as a person from another country, I've got to learn how to do everything that's hard so I can make it in America," says Williams.

By scribbling sentences, students break down barriers. For volunteers, no reward is better than being able to show others they can believe in themselves.

Refugees happy, hungry to excel