Crawford Refugee Students Open Their Lives, Hearts to Classmates

Crawford Write Our Story
Students Angith Barali, left, and Monjila Rai shared their stories with the entire third-grade class at Crawford during a recent assembly.

For many students at Crawford Elementary, going to school every day is quite the experience. Crawford serves a relatively large percentage of refugee and immigrant students and families, and for some, school is a first-time experience.

Refugees and immigrants have such unique stories about their journey to the United States, and staff at Crawford recently connected with the nonprofit group Write Our World to help students share their experiences with classmates. Students like Monjila Rai love to let it all hang out, and when asked what excites her the most about life in the U.S., she doesn't hesitate.

"My favorite thing about America is coming to school,” she said, boasting a smile from ear to ear.

Since last spring, students in Kate Garvin’s third-grade class have partnered with the nonprofit to create and publish online multicultural e-books that detail their lives prior to coming to America. Write Our World founder Julie Carey says this work is about building a space online for kids to make the stories and share with other children around the world. Garvin’s class began focusing on Somali students and has now moved on to Nepalese community. The plan is to incorporate stories about the Spanish community this spring.

In addition to giving refugee students a space to tell their stories, Garvin said the project has sparked intergenerational conversations among the school community and has served as an engagement tool for families. Since the work began, Crawford staff members have seen an increase in parents joining committees at the school. Crawford is one of five APS schools to join the newly formed innovation zone – or ACTION Zone – and this work aligns with the school’s goals of getting more parents involved.

The e-book project exemplifies the APS 2020: Shaping the Future core belief that diversity is a strength in our community, and APS is proud to partner with Write Our World to help our students realize their value and potential.

Click here to see an example of a Write Our World story from a Crawford student.