Marquette Wire

MU Students tutor young refugee students

Photo+courtesy+of+SEA+Literacy.
Photo courtesy of SEA Literacy.

Photo courtesy of SEA Literacy.

Photo courtesy of SEA Literacy.

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Every Thursday night in Cudahy Hall, young students speaking multitudes of languages giggle and talk among themselves waiting for their tutors to arrive.

Marquette University student tutors walk in and head for their students, ready to help them adapt to school subjects in the English language.

These kids are not merely students who practice English as a second language, but are refugees from Southeastern Asia. All of them have spent a portion of their lives in refugee camps before relocating to Milwaukee. The students are working with SEA Literacy, a community organization working to support refugee youth and their families in the city.

Kelly Walker, director of community service for the university, said Marquette partnered with SEA Literacy in a few different ways.

“SEA Literacy was one of our original Marquette Volunteer Corps sites, and teams of volunteers still serve twice a week,” Walker said.

A few years ago, students decided to bring SEA Literacy to campus by forming Students for SEA Literacy so that Marquette students could serve as tutors from a campus location.

“SSEAL provides a convenient way for students to get involved and reflect on their service, all while introducing participants to Marquette’s campus,” Walker said.

Claire Nesbitt, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and the president of SSEAL, said about 30 students come for tutoring each week, and the number is growing.

“Ideally it would be one-on-one tutoring, and we need more Marquette students to come help,” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt said many of the students are refugees, including Rohingya Muslims fleeing from their current persecution in Myanmar and Syrians fleeing from civil war.

“(SSEAL tutoring) strengthens Marquette’s relationship with the community,” Nesbitt said. “Marquette is great about sending people out into the community, but it needs to be reciprocated (by inviting people on campus.)”

Max Imiliano Neblina, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and the vice president of SSEAL, said he joined the organization after seeing an email from Marquette Center for Community Service one day.

“I think education is important,” he said. “This is a really good program for refugee students.”

Neblina added that SSEAL helps get the students to the level of their classmates at their schools.

“They’re smart kids, it’s just little things like cultural references that can make things hard for them,” Neblina said.

SSEAL meets every Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Cudahy Hall room 118.

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