California Educator

February 2014

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Learning Best Practice HELPING IMMIGRANTS IN THE MELTING POT OF MODESTO BY SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN 44 Educator 02 Feb 2014 v2.1 int.indd 44 Nahreen Sampour explains, through an interpreter, that she has missed seven years of school. She was raised in Iraq, where 75 percent of girls drop out by the end of primary school. Her family fled to Syria to escape the bloodshed, and found themselves in the midst of civil war. Eight weeks ago she landed in Modesto, where the 17-year-old enrolled in the Language Institute (LI) for new arrivals. S OM E OF H E R C L AS S M ATES are also from the Middle East; others come from Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, India and other countries. She sits at a table giggling with new friends she has made. Diversity rises to a whole new level at the LI, with 172 students representing 31 countries who speak 16 languages. Many have witnessed war, murder, kidnapping, and persecution for being an ethnic minority. Some students have parents who worked for the U.S. government. The LI helps newly arrived immigrants acquire the oral language skills and literacy needed to be successful in this country, and assists in the acculturation process which is often so overwhelming for teens adjusting to American society, says Lindsey Bird, a history teacher who helped create FE B RUARY 20 14 1/27/14 3:52 PM

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