In 2021, as hundreds of Afghan refugees arrived within the U.S., Annandale High School’s Multilingual Education Department Chair, Meredith Hedrick, reached out to college students Sosan Barakzai and Husna Basiri.

Annandale High School grad and Dunya Club co-founder Sosan Barakzai speaks throughout her commencement ceremony on June 3.
(Courtesy Fairfax County faculties)

Courtesy Fairfax County faculties

graduate getting diploma
Annandale High School grad Husna Basiri will get her diploma from Principal Shawn DeRose.
(Courtesy Fairfax County faculties)

Courtesy Fairfax County faculties

Members of the Dunya Club. (Courtesy Husna Basiri)
Members of the Dunya Club.
(Courtesy Husna Basiri)

Courtesy Husna Basiri

In 2021, as hundreds of Afghan refugees arrived within the U.S., Annandale High School’s Multilingual Education Department Chair, Meredith Hedrick, reached out to college students Sosan Barakzai and Husna Basiri.

Hendrick requested whether or not the pair, who’re each Afghan immigrants, can be thinking about serving to to launch a membership for college kids new to Fairfax County faculties, as they as soon as had been. They’re uniquely positioned to assist, Hendrick informed them, as a result of they communicate the language and may relate to the expertise of acclimating to a brand new atmosphere.

Those conversations led to the pair serving to launch the membership, which initially was created to assist Afghan refugees. It began with about six college students, the 2 stated, however grew to as many as 30 this 12 months. Barakzai and Basiri renamed it the “Dunya” membership. The phrase means “world” in Farsi, they usually felt it was an applicable title, because the membership welcomed college students from Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia and Central America.

Barakzai and Basiri have now each graduated and are planning to attend The George Washington University in D.C. subsequent 12 months. But the infrastructure they created inside the membership will stay, serving to dozens of others get used to life as Virginia college students.

“When you first got here right here, you really want someone’s assist,” Barakzai stated. “People like me and Husna, we skilled how a lot we wanted assist. We needed to present again. We needed to do the identical factor.”

The weekly Wednesday conferences emerged as a secure area for the scholars to apply their English. The college students additionally assist one another with homework or put together for upcoming checks.

Because navigating a big college campus might be daunting for college kids who haven’t executed it, membership members depart their courses a couple of minutes early to assist their friends discover their subsequent class. They achieve this till the scholars can confidently navigate the college buildings on their very own.

The membership additionally helps new college students deal with different challenges, akin to what sort of meals the cafeteria serves and whether or not it’s halal, or when a subject could contain a dialog with a faculty counselor.

“My favourite a part of the membership was, since we had college students from totally different backgrounds, discussing the tradition and serving to construct relationships and being mates,” Basiri stated. “We had cultural conferences, potlucks and events for them. All the scholars would carry their very own meals.”

At first, the group was launched with the objective of serving to the brand new college students get ready for varsity. But its goal developed, and the older members led conversations about methods to apply for faculty or scholarships.

“While it appears straightforward to understand how a lot credit it’s essential graduate, it appears straightforward (to select) which diploma you need to do or methods to discover your GPA, it’s very arduous for the scholars to search out these items, to even perceive methods to work e mail,” Barakzai stated.

The group additionally motivates new college students to get entangled with extracurricular actions. Hendrick, the division chair, used grant funding to purchase tools for cricket, so college students can play after college.

Now that they’re graduating, the pair is ensuring everybody has the abilities in place to advocate for themselves.

“I’ve realized from private expertise that asking questions will be very terrifying,” Barakzai stated. “I allow them to know at first that asking questions is the one means so that you can develop in your self being who you might be, and to realize no matter you will have ardour for in highschool, faculty or in life.”

Get breaking information and every day headlines delivered to your e mail inbox by signing up right here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This web site isn’t meant for customers positioned inside the European Economic Area.