It’s commonly known that children are able to learn a new language quicker than their parents. When immigrant and refugee families resettle in the US, their children are able to learn English fast. This results in children having to act as interpreters or cultural liaisons for their parents which disrupts normal parent–child dynamics and forces the parents to be dependent upon the children to take charge. This role reversal sometimes damages the fragile structure of a family in transition, leaving parents feeling impotent and children feeling overwhelmed by their new duties. Along with difficulties with maintaining family structure, immigrant and refugee families also face challenges with employment.
Usually when immigrants and refugees resettle in the US, their foreign diplomas and qualifications are not recognized by local employers. Education is expensive and most families are unable to afford it. With little to no choice, many immigrants and refugees resort to accepting low paying jobs, sometimes working under difficult circumstances for many hours or working multiple jobs for a paycheck, leaving little time to care for their families and themselves.
Working under these conditions can be exhausting. Being in this situation can increase social vulnerability, further triggering those with past traumatic experience which results in poor mental health. Given the multidimensional aspect of the refugee situation, Cross Over Community Development (COCD) has designed a holistic and wrap around mentoring program that will connect ESL learners to supportive networks. COCD will recruit mentors who will be matched with refugee families and serve as English conversational partners, cultural, educators, career mentors, and role models to the youth, as well as helping families to navigate the maze of complicated social networks in the Greater Dayton area.