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Tag: education

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Kitaab Club working to leave no child behind

For the past 7 years, the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) has offered Kitaab Club, an after-school math and English literacy program with the goal of providing essential learning support for children in the areas of math, reading, writing and listening comprehension. The program is offered to students ranging from 1st to 5th grade that are English language learners and/or below grade level. With overcrowded English Language Learner classes in the NYC public schools, and diminishing resources to help these students, AAANY works to leverage its cultural competency and connection to the community to fill the gap. More than just a homework-help session, Kitaab Club provides interactive activities, educational games, and a focus on outside reading practice to enhance the students’ English capabilities. In charge of the program is Evelyn Garcia, the Community Outreach Coordinator, who joined AAANY through the New York City Civic Corps, one of the Citywide Initiatives to build the capacity of nonprofits through maximizing NYC’s volunteers. Before enrolling the students, Evelyn conducted pre-screenings to test their levels and scheduled meetings with the parents to ensure their child’s involvement. Since our partnership with Primary School 170 in 2011, we have been able to use the school facility and help many of the same students who attend that school.

On January 24th, the program’s “new and improved” version started a new semester, with fresh and enthusiastic volunteers hailing from California, to Syria, and even from the United Kingdom. With more volunteer instructors we have been able to both guarantee more organization and foster a closer one-on-one relationship between the tutors and the kids; one that will feasibly grow into more of a mentor to student relationship. At the end of each day, the tutors are required to fill out an assessment, which keeps the children’s progress on record and functions as a marker from which to move forward with instruction. “Kitaab Club has improved a great deal since last semester and this has been the result of a few important changes we have made,” said Garcia “I definitely think that screening the students and having their parents come into AAANY to verify all their contact information has helped a lot. We want to work together with parents to improve their child’s academic performance so we try to be in constant communication with them. We have also actively recruited more tutors, which has resulted in a more diverse group of tutors, both in age and background. We finally have a tutor to student ratio that works!” she added, with enthusiasm. AAANY is proud to offer such a dynamic program for the community and new volunteers are always welcome to inquire after tutoring positions. For more information on the program, please contact egarcia@ArabAmericanNY.org. Chelsea Estevez

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July 26, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Kitaab Camp: Fun Learning with a Cultural Twist!

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Kitaab Camp is in full swing as it begins its third week of the summer! Under the leadership of Youth Program Manager, Mohammad and the guidance of our Kitaab Camp Coordinator, Kayla and Student Youth Employment Program participants, the campers have embarked on trips around the city in an effort to reinforce their knowledge and practice of the English language. So far the group has visited the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Museum of Chinese America, the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, Ellis Island and El Museo del Barrio. Whether identifying different types of vegetables at the Children’s Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or learning about robots, video game programming and digital animation at the Sony Technology Lab, campers are actively interacting with the English language. Click here to see photos of their trips around the city.


On a recent adventure to East Harlem’s Latin American Art museum, El Museo del Barrio, the group enjoyed an interactive tour of the main gallery in addition to a hands-on art workshop. Though the museum was exciting and informative for the kids, what really shined through was their amazing group dynamic. With ages ranging from 5 to 12, and campers coming from many different backgrounds, the group’s strength is its diversity. It is a multicultural and multiracial mix of campers from Haiti, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Yemen, Palestine, Egypt and Turkey, as well as New York. SYEP participants and older campers have risen to the occasion and taken leadership roles, while younger campers learn from their older peers. Sarrowr, an SYEP participant and community member emphasized how being a leader in the group has reinforced her desire to become a teacher:

“I wanted to be a teacher and now I have a preview. I didn’t know what to expect when I started, but now I feel prepared for the future. The program isn’t just for the kids, it’s for us. I thought I would be teaching them, but after 3 weeks I realize that they are the ones teaching me.”



In addition to youth leadership, the group has benefitted from adult oversight. Ms. Salim, a certified NYCDOE substitute bilingual teacher, emphasizes lesson planning and structure within Kitaab Camp field trips by designing worksheets specifically for ESL students. With this strategy the campers learn the necessary vocabulary prior to visiting sites where they will hear the words in context. Though her specialty is Spanish and is directed to teaching the Spanish-speaking campers, she hopes to collaborate with Arabic speakers to add Arabic to her worksheets.



Kitaab camp is in session until August 17th. Future adventures include the Museum of Natural History, New York Aquarium, PuppetWorks and the Prospect Park Zoo.
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April 23, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY’s English Students Step Out On The Town

If you walked into the Capitol One Bank on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge this past Thursday, you may have seen the women of AAANY’s English program participating in our first ever financial literacy workshop!

A group of about 25 students met at AAANY and walked across the street to Capitol One to attend a lecture and demonstration given by the bank’s Branch Manager, Aneta Dowlatram. Ms. Dowlatram gave up her morning to do a presentation on the different services offered at the bank and give a tour of the bank’s safety deposit boxes. Each student received a folder with literature about Capitol One’s services as well as example deposit slips and savings account forms. The trip ended with several group practice sessions at Capitol One’s ATM machines.



For the past month, AAANY students learned about all aspects of the banking system. The classes covered a wide range of terms, skills and topics, ranging from writing checks to debating the finer points of Islamic Law and its analysis of interest (all in English of course). AAANY’s Adult Education Coordinator, Katie McCulloch, worked with the other volunteer teachers, Amida Alessandrini, Loren Diesi, and Megan Tribble, in order to make sure that students in each level of English received a solid foundation of bank vocabulary that they could put into practice in their everyday lives. Students did numerous conversation drills, a variety of readings, and even made individual presentations in front of their classmates about specific banking concepts. Before the big outing, Katie brought all of the classes together for a large group discussion so the more advanced students could help the beginner students practice conversations.



AAANY’s students arrived at the bank Thursday morning having previously addressed a number of important subjects, including how to teach a child about handling money responsibly, how to open a college savings account and how to wire transfer money to one’s family in another country, and so were well prepared to ask many questions of Ms. Dowlatram.

But by far the highlight of the day was the ATM lesson. Using a loud, beeping machine in a language that is not your first can be intimidating, especially because of the stress that any money transaction involves. But by the end of the trip, students were able to navigate through the most important functions of the machine. The donut breakfast everyone shared afterwards wasn’t too bad, either. This next week’s lesson plan is inspired by the ATM excitement; we are going to conquer the subway system and the metro card machines!

-Megan Tribble
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March 22, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Making the System Work

This winter, the Arab American Association of New York added a great new service to the College Readiness Program!

Teaming up with Youth Coordinator Christophe Jospe, I’ve been coming to volunteer every Wednesday after school hours, to meet with high school students who are working on college planning, applications, and financial aid. I’ve also started a resource website for gathering helpful information.

Whether you just want someone to go through the steps with you, or you finally need to get started “for real” this time, I can help! Everyone runs into questions while going through the college admission process, and I’m here to help you find answers.

One of the things I like about what I do is learning of ways to make “the system” help people when they need it. Your school’s staff, a college’s admissions office, financial aid representatives -- they all work there to help you. But most of the time, they won’t know you have a problem unless you come to them. My goal is to help every student know how to advocate for themselves.

We encourage students to find the resources that will help them keep moving forward. If you’re wondering what your next step is, talk to Christophe about coming to meet with me. We can help you work it out.

Thanks to the Learning Leaders College Planning program for coordinating this volunteer service!

-Liz Kies
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March 21, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

AAANY Goes to Albany to Support the DREAM Act

On March 14th, the Arab American Association of New York joined forces with the New York Immigration Coalition at the state’s capital to push for the passage of the New York State DREAM Act, among other unifying concerns. The trip to Albany was dubbed an Immigrants’ Day of Action and provided an opportunity for community members to speak directly with state legislatures and explain how the passage of the act would impact their communities. Over 1000 people came out for the day. The DREAM Act would ensure that all students graduating from New York public schools are eligible for financial assistance in higher education regardless of their immigration status. Last Wednesday, a group from the South Brooklyn community met bright and early at the Arab American Association and loaded a bus to Albany. South Brooklyn high school and college students, as well as potential “Dreamers,” joined community members, parents, and activist in the Day of Action. The group participated in a morning rally with other New York immigrant rights advocacy groups outside the state capital building. Activists and politicians explained how the act would benefit immigrant communities and the state of New York while members of the Arab American Association held signs supporting education equality. In the afternoon, our group met with our local representatives, Assembly Woman Nicole Malliotakis and Senator Marty Golden in an effort to convince them to sign on to the DREAM Act. Students shared their personal stories of how they attended New York public schools, yet were unable to pursue higher education. This trip provided a great opportunity for the South Brooklyn community to engage in politics and influence policies that will directly affect their community. We look forward to continuing to engage our community in local and state politics! -Katherine Kusiak Carey