leaky pipe:

disconnection in the education system

youth stories

david, 20 & dina, 19, siblings, east region

DAVID—I went to 11th grade in Iraq, and then we went to Turkey and I didn’t finish my high school diploma. The language was different and we were working there.

We have been in San Diego for four months. The most important thing is language right now. And a job. Without these two things, we can’t do anything.

My mom was studying here [International Rescue Committee] herself, and she meet Mr. Azmi. He told her, “We have this program, and maybe it’s good for your children.” So we came here and we met him and we started in this program.

My mother makes me strong. She tells me to study and do something good in my life. She tells me, ‘David, don’t stop. Just learn and learn, and don’t stop.’”

People here are from many cultures. It’s interesting to communicate with them. Know what they are thinking. Are they thinking like us or not? What do they like to do...lots of things. It is important. We have to know the space between us and between them. It’s very important.

America is a different country, different from other countries. Here, you have to respect all people. And you have to respect all opinions here. And respect the law. It’s good.

I have many goals right now. I want to get my GED, I want to go to college, I want to study and I want to be a nurse. I am studying now for my GED, so I will see what happens.

DINAI went to 7th grade in Iraq. In Turkey I wanted to  go to school, of course, but the language was different so I stayed home with my mother.

I’m searching for jobs in a salon because I have experience from Iraq. That and cashier jobs.

It’s a helpful program for people, because here we start from the beginning. If a person doesn’t know anything, they can come here. It’s helped me with studying, searching for a job and communication.

I like to give my little brothers confidence. I like to tell them, “You can do that!”

It’s hard for me to make friends. I like to stay home or go places with my brother. I have friends who also came to America, but they are in Arizona. It’s different for them, but good.

When people come here it is important to find a job. And study. And learn the language. If you want to be good here in America, you have to know English.

Science and history are my favorite subjects. I want to get my GED, I want to go to college, I want to be a dermatologist. The future is exciting because in Iraq I didn’t finish in my school, and now I want to finish school...everything.