NORTHAMPTON – Lander-Grinspoon Academy (LGA) has partnered with Jewish Family Services of Western Mass. (JFS) to sponsor a refugee family of four from Eastern Congo. The family arrived on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Sara Bedford, New American Program Director for JFS, went to LGA just before Thanksgiving to help the students understand the challenges of the U.S. refugee resettlement system. She played a game of musical chairs with students to demonstrate how the need for help outweighs the number of people seeking asylum, and the reasons why certain refugees make it through the system and others don’t. Durga Giri, now an employee of JFS, shared with the students the story of how he escaped from Bhutan when he was five years old.
When asked by sixth-grader Isabel Baxter Paris what the number one thing he wanted when he first came to the United States, he replied that he wanted a place to live, friends and community support, and food.
LGA collected household items, clothing, books, and toys for the family. The kindergarten class took care of grocery shopping for culturally appropriate food for the family so they arrived to a full kitchen, and older students set up the apartment with furniture, kitchen supplies, linens, and everything else the family needs. They also made decorations and welcome banners for the family.
As part of the school’s celebration of Thanksgiving, all students learned about the plight of refugees through hands-on activities.
“As Jews, we were all immigrants once, and it is our responsibility to take care of those currently suffering a similar plight,” said Deborah Bromberg Seltzer, principal at LGA.
CAP: Students at LGA loading up furniture collected for the apartment of the refugee family from Eastern Congo the school is sponsoring.