Young Iraqi refugee teaches AmeriCorps member resiliency of children

by Jared Paben

"Hajir’s family is from Iraq, and four years ago her father and uncle were murdered in their home for aiding the United States during a time of war, while Hajir, her mother and her sister hid under the bed."

Young Iraqi refugee teaches AmeriCorps member resiliency of children

AmeriCorps member Michael S. has learned much about educating young children, since he started serving through Partnerships for Student Achievement, an AmeriCorps program at Forest Grove School District.

But what has absolutely surprised him most is how resilient children are, that "despite living in the most tragic of conditions, they can still laugh, love, and simply still be a kid." Even children who've fallen victim to the horrors of war.

His story of service:

My good buddy Hajir first joined my 5th grade math group (Number Ninjas) back in October, and she is a prime example of a child’s resiliency. Hajir is an absolutely awesome kiddo. She was placed in my math group (like all of my Number Ninjas) due to her struggles in mathematics and very low assessment scores. She is always attentive, and is my model student for the group in terms of behavior. I never had to worry about Hajir.

What I didn’t expect however, is how much Hajir has already overcome. Hajir’s family is from Iraq, and four years ago her father and uncle were murdered in their home for aiding the United States during a time of war, while Hajir, her mother and her sister hid under the bed. Hajir and her family were then relocated to Oregon. Hajir did not speak any English, and when she learned, would write and speak often of her father’s death.

I was shocked when I learned her back-story, since a new person in her life (such as myself) would have no idea. The Hajir that I know speaks English very well, is incredibly well rounded, and ran down to my office to find me when I was late to math group. The Hajir that I know just scored a 100 on her math test.

Posted on June 23, 2014 in AmeriCorps.