Amnesty Students Build Relationships with Refugee Youth

Bosque students continued to build relationships with refugee youth from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq last week as part of their Amnesty International service learning partnership with Van Buren Middle School. While the group is charged with raising awareness and participating in campaigns pertaining to human rights violations across the world, its primary focus this year is building friendships, acting as “English-language and American-culture mentors” with the refugee youth.

The Bosque group participates in “Fun Saturday” events once per month and twice-monthly events on Thursdays, for which the students prepare lessons for the refugee youth. Recent lesson themes have included “body parts” where Bosque students taught the youth the “Hokey Pokey,” a classic American song, and “stories” where the group worked with youth on telling stories using techniques similar to the always-popular Mad Libs.

Bosque participants say that the interactions with the youth are eye-opening and the joy they discover as they share experiences with their new friends is heartwarming. But the refugee youth have not been fond of all their American experience—they don’t like Pop-Tarts.

Service Learning Director Anna Rutins said that she is very proud of the group. “I’m impressed by the demonstrated commitment to planning meaningful experiences, coordinating logistics, and most of all, showing up with open hearts and minds.

Bosque students left time for some fun at their Valentine’s Day visit, decorating holiday cookies after their lesson.

Thank you to Travis Mckenzie, teacher, gardening educator at Van Buren Middle School; Peace Izabayo, Homework Cafe Coordinator; and the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Mexico that funds the program. A special thanks to Veronica Plaza, mother of Helen ’20, for baking dozens of heart cookies and providing edible decorating supplies.

Here’s a list of the Amnesty International students who participated in the Valentine’s Day event:

Finn ’21
Gus ’21
Aldo ’22
Alyssa ’22
Constance ’22
Livi ’22
Naomi ’22
Phoebe ’22