A unique Dalton tutoring program for refugee students in Jordan is entering its second year. The number of volunteer tutors has doubled to over 60 at every grade level.
Dalton has offered a course in refugee studies for the past five years taught by Dr. Garay Menicucci. The course has had an experiential learning trip that took 5 student groups, faculty, and staff to visit refugee camps, NGO service centers, and Jordanian schools that have high enrollments of refugee students. Dalton students had the opportunity to meet face to face with officials from the UN High Commission for Refugees, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, the Jordanian government, and the Chinese Embassy.
Dalton students wanted to do something more than just visit with refugee students in Jordan. Dalton students helped initiate a scholarship program for refugee and marginalized students from Jordan. Two students completed high school at Dalton and went on to college.
Then the COVID pandemic hit. It was not longer possible to continue the student trips to Jordan or the scholarship program. Dalton student alumni from the refugee studies course and the Jordan trips still wanted to help.
Most teenage refugee students have had their high school education disrupted or challenged by their poor living conditions in Jordan. Their only chance to go to college is through a scholarship and passing the annual government college entrance examination similar to the gao kao in China. Dalton students had the idea of setting up a one-on-one tutoring program through video conferencing with the refugee students.
The first tutoring sessions began in spring semester 2021. Forty of the best math and English students from Dalton and the main school signed on to be tutors. Refugee lives are unstable at best. Many of them did not have smart phones to do the video conferencing sessions. The tutoring program received at Dalton research grant and a college counseling professional association grant awarded to Aileen Lee to supply the refugee students with smart phones and data plans. Some of the refugees had personal crises and didn't complete the tutoring program, but all of them who did took the college entrance exam and passed.
This year the number of Dalton students who have signed up to volunteer has almost doubled. The tutoring program student leaders Wang Yadi and Yao Lan are now in the process of pairing our students with their refugee partners. They are working together with refugee NGO service organization in Mafraq and Amman, Jordan.
We are hoping for more refugee students completing the program and getting their one chance at higher education that will help both them and their families.
By: Dr. Garay Menicucci