Somali Refugee Youth in Maryland: Needs Assessment
Trickett, Edison J.
Annapolis, MD: Maryland Department of Human Resources, Maryland Office for New Americans
November 2001, 23 pages
Describes the purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions of a needs assessment of Somali refugee youth in Prince George's County, Maryland, conducted during the 2000-2001 academic year. The primary purpose was to determine how the Somali youth were faring in public schools. Data were gathered from focus groups with the youth (in middle school, in high school, and recently graduated) as well as interviews with parents and such school personnel as guidance and outreach counselors, international student specialists, and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teachers. Although the interviews and discussions indicated that the Somali youth for the most part were adjusting well to both American society and school, some themes and concerns emerged around the difficulty of feeling different from the other students as reflected in family life and religious beliefs, having academic or disciplinary problems, being teased and involved in fights, and facing an uncertain future. From the teachers' perspectives, problems also arose because of the lack of ESOL teachers and the challenge of promoting parental involvement. Key conclusions included the importance of gathering information from and sharing it with key stakeholders and of increasing cultural understanding.
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