The KAMA model provides a platform for migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees to lead community classes on topics of their choosing. KAMA DC addresses a contact gap between immigrants, migrants, and their host communities and fosters exchange in a way that highlights newcomers' ability to contribute knowledge and skills to the community. Classes are open to everyone interested in learning and exchange. Leading a class provides KAMA teachers with a chance to share a skill or passion with neighbors, meet new people in the area where they live, further language skills, develop presentation skills, and build their resumes. Some branches of KAMA are able to facilitate donations by participants, adding another benefit for teachers.
KAMA is a German acronym for "classes by asylees, migrants, and persons seeking asylum" The original German is "Kurse von Asylsuchenden, MigrantInnen & Asylberechtigten." KAMA DC is the name of the program in Washington, DC.
KAMA began in Austria in 2007, and the model has since spread to several Austrian cities as well as to Germany and most recently to the United States in 2016, when a group of volunteers began meeting in the Washington, DC area. KAMA is meant to be an open-ended process that adapts to local contexts.
--Initial needs assessment
In Washington, DC KAMA organizers undertook a market needs assessment by reaching out to 65 organizations operating in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia that serve refugees, immigrants, and migrants, or are involved in education. Our preliminary research confirmed that no other organization in this community focuses on empowering migrants to teach classes to the general Washington, DC area. This outreach also facilitated the cultivation of partnerships with existing groups working on migration in the area. Three focus groups were held of potential students and teachers, and KAMA published a survey for each respective group to obtain feedback regarding the content and logistics of classes.
KAMA DC recruits teachers through outreach to partner organizations working directly with newcomers and direct outreach to migrant communities at local events and institutions and through social media through materials translated into several key languages.
--Class development and planning
Teachers select a course topic based on their own interests and receive a brief teacher orientation from KAMA DC organizers. Teachers are paired with one or two KAMA DC volunteers to provide more detailed curriculum planning and logistical support.
KAMA organizers work with local partner organizations and businesses to identify an appropriate venue, with businesses often donating space or offering at a reduced rate. Once a course has been selected, KAMA DC advertises the classes through local event boards and interest groups as well as through a community mailing list and the KAMA DC Facebook page.
Registration is recorded through Eventbrite, and KAMA DC asks all registrants to gauge their level of understanding and familiarity with a particular topic. KAMA DC uses this baseline information to assist the teachers in preparing for class.
In addition to the classes, KAMA DC aims reinforce ties between teachers and the community by having social events.
The program is particularly open to immigrants and migrants of various backgrounds who may have an interest in sharing their skills with the wider DC community. These can include people seeking or granted asylum, or any other temporary or subsidiary protection status, but also immigrant workers, family migrants, and many others.
Beyond the actual teachers, the program also strives to include their direct social circles in activities, such as family members and friends who may experience similar barriers to contact with their host communities.
Anyone interested in common learning can participate in classes and workshops offered through KAMA. The only requirements are mutual respect, tolerance, and politeness.
KAMA aims to map and cater to existing interest in contact through tailored matchmaking efforts. KAMA branches in Europe have held KAMA classes in schools and for companies.
However, the program also strives to include groups that usually have least points of contact with immigrants and migrants. Structured direct contact techniques such as those employed by KAMA DC have proven beneficial for these circles of persons, and empirical evidence shows that those with most reservation are often amongst those benefiting most from positive contact.
KAMA DC attracts people interested in building ties between migrants, immigrants, and their host communities. There are various organizational roles in which KAMA organizers can support the initiative, including communications; mentoring; fundraising; teacher, participant, and logistics coordination; and others.
The experience of bridging contact gaps and enabling positive interactions that create mutual understanding and empathy will tap the inner resources of KAMA DC members themselves.
Funding for KAMA may include donations from participants and fundraising events, federal and state grants, grants from private foundations, and business sponsorships.
All funding will go toward class supplies, reimbursements for teacher transportation, and any fees associated with utilizing location space for classes, social events, and meetings.
KAMA DC is run entirely by volunteers. While an all-volunteer model calls for some flexibility in matching responsibilities, the below are some of the key functions:
At the end of every class, we invite class participants to fill out an anonymous evaluation form in which they rate on a scale of 1-10 whether they learned more about the country or culture of the teacher, whether they were able to learn something new, and whether they would participate in a KAMA class in the future.
KAMA will evaluate our program by documenting the number of present and potential teachers available, and surveying the teachers' experience. We plan to ask teachers to rate on a scale of 1-10 whether their classes helped them to engage more with the local community, whether they were able to achieve the purpose of their class, and whether they would teach that class or another KAMA class in the future. Higher numbers would signal more positive experiences.
91% of participants said that the objectives of the KAMA DC class they attended were met.
92% of participants said that they would recommend KAMA DC classes to friends or attend another class.
KAMA began in 2007 in Austria and in 2016 in Washington, DC and is still operating as of late 2017.