French students work with refugee family from Ivory Coast

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    Sophomore strategic communication major Sandy Jacquez said she has always been interested in working with refugees and took advantage when the opportunity presented itself.  

    Jacquez and six other students in the Readings in Selected French Genres class are working with a French-speaking refugee family from the Ivory Coast.

    The course has incorporated a service learning initiative by working with the family, instructor Marie Schein said. Through service learning initiatives, students are applying knowledge of a subject matter along with research and critical analysis to identify a need. Then, students work to address that need.

    Schein and her students began working with refugees last year, she said.  Schein became interested in incorporating working with refugees into her classes while participating in a TCU Leaps activity at Catholic Charities.

    Schein could not disclose the family’s name or any information about them because of their refugee status, she said.

    Students work with the refugee family to assist them in adapting to a new culture,in partnership with Catholic Charities, Schein  said. At first, the family may just need someone to connect with someone who understands their language and background.

    Jacquez  said she was looking forward to spending time with the children and helping them with their homework.

    “At first, it might be hard to help the kids because I am not fluent yet,” she  said. “But the best way to get better is to immerse yourself in the language.”

    Jacquez said she saw this as a good opportunity to get away from campus and go into a foreign world for a little bit, she said.

    “It puts things into a new perspective for you,” she  said. “Things that seemed like huge issues are really so little when you see these people that lost everything and can still keep a smile on their faces.”

    Working with refugee families will continue throughout this semester and beyond, Schein  said. Once relationships are created and needs are filled, she said, there is a sense of urgency to continue working with the families.

    Through service learning initiatives, the students practice French outside of the classroom, connect with families from a different culture, and use what they have learned in French class to positively impact the Fort Worth community, she  said.