Summer is Busy at KOSD

Summer is a very busy time here at KOSD.  Our office is a buzz of activity with community members coming in and out.  With youth out of school, the Karen Organization is a safe space where they can spend time and suppliment their studies so that they don’t backslide over the break.  Adults too have been busy learning.  In July KOSD offered a series of Case Management Trainings for both adults and youth.  In August we are holding a series of positive parenting classes.  ESL and Citizenship classes are also in session.  In addition to the plethora of learning opportunities that we offer, KOSD has been holding some special events and looks forward to holding more.  We are busy but we are so happy to see our space and services used so much by the refugees from Burma who we serve!

During the month of August, KOSD has been offering Summer School classes and free lunches for children in our community.  We serve hot meals to 30-40 students for lunch from Monday to Friday.  We are happy to be able to help see that children have a nutritious lunch each day during the time of year when free school lunches are not available.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, we offer an English Reading for Kids program for elementary school students with the goal of creating fun and excitement around reading.  Volunteers from San Diego State University lead Read Alongs accompanied by phonetics activities and games and crafts related to the book.  More than 60 elementary students have attended so far with an average of about 40 students per session!  On Mondays after English we offer Burmese classes for kids and on Wednesdays and Fridays we offer Karen language classes.  We believe in the value of preserving traditional languages and teaching them to First Generation students.  We also offer programming for middle and high school students on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Tuesday students participate in a book club where they are reading the story of a refugee from Ethiopia.  Following the book club, student have an English Writing class.  On Thursdays youth have Burmese and Karen classes.  It is really exciting to have children and youth studying here in August!

Students attend KOSD’s Summer Reading for Kids program as a part of our Summer School.

In July adults and youth from our community attended a series of Case Management Trainings at KOSD. Participants learned to fill out basic forms in order to become more self-sufficient. Topics covered included how to fill out welfare forms, including forms for CalFresh, CalWorks, and MediCal renewal, change of address forms, paperwork for the DMV, jury duty, California Lifeline and more. Our hope is that workshops like these will help our clients to be better able to handle their own cases in the future. The trainings were well attended and community members were eager to learn new skills.  In August we are hoding a series of positive parenting classes at the request of our community.  Participants will learn about positive parenting practices in the United States in an effort to learn new skills and to become familiar with the expectations for parents in America.  We are also holding citizenship and ESL classes to help adults in our community become more self-sufficient.

In addition to the classes that we are holding this summer, KOSD is happy to be a part of some fun summer events and activities.  In July we held the first ever First Generation Prom.  KOSD’s First Generation youth group had a great idea. Having experienced a high school prom for the first time, group members decided to take this well-known American tradition and make it their own. At the request of the youth, KOSD helped to organize the first ever First Generation Prom. High schoolers from our community dressed in traditional clothes and came looking fabulous. The night was great fun with delicious food, dancing, a photo booth, and the vote for king and queen. Everyone had a wonderful time at the event and it was incredible to see the creativity of youth adapting to American culture while retaining and celebrating the culture of Burma.

What’s next for our youth?  In August we will also be hosting the California Karen Youth Forum.  Karen youth from throughout California and the Western United States will join San Diego Karen youth in the first conference to be held in our city.  KOSD youth are eager to serve as leaders to other youth as the group learns about Karen History, educational opportunities in the United States, youth rights and responsibilities, youth vilolence an dsustance abuse, and leadership development and community organization.  This weekend event is sure to be a highlight for youth and a great chance to network and share knowledge.

As you can see, we have been very busy this summer here at KOSD!  We are very happy and proud to have so many excellent programs for members of our community!