Children of Syrian Refugees in New Jersey Find a Home Away from Home

WNYC | March 30, 2016 | More Issues
Islamic school in Teaneck connects them with their roots – and the transition to life in America

Syrian refugees who moved to Elizabeth, NJ, found a lot of support from volunteers who invited them to share Chinese food at a local synagogue’s Christmas dinner, provided English lessons, and offered help navigating everyday routines.

But some of the children were having a tough time at the Elizabeth public schools, in part because the schools had no Arabic translator and in part because children were placed in grades based on their age rather than their academic level.

So this winter two families of Syrian immigrants accepted an offer by a private Islamic school in Teaneck, which offered them scholarships last year.

Iman El Dessouky, principal of the Academy of Greatness and Excellence, said her school could ease the culture clash sure to be felt by the newcomers.

“We’re not just preserving your Islamic identity, but you’re also understanding that you are an American citizen,” she explained.

Read the full report by WNYC, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.