For others, it might be a beaded throw pillow traditional to India or a can of biscuits unique to Arab countries, she said. From that day on, I knew this city was home. Her parents spoke only Spanish, and she learned English in her prekindergarten class. San Antonio's News, Traffic and Weather, San Antonio news, traffic and weather station and Home of The Joe Pags Show, Advertise on News Radio 1200 WOAI, Get Results, Advertise with News Radio 1200 WOAI, Get Results. In fact, now that the federal government has reduced the number of refugees admitted into the country, employers are asking for more job applicants than we can provide. Austin, Texas offers an example of resettled refugees’ experiences in the American South. The report, which measures how well cities integrate their immigrant and refugee communities, commended us for helping immigrants achieve high rates of home-ownership, a low cost of living and access to both health care and education. His teacher said they’d ask him, “What’s your plan?” for the day and he would reply, “I don’t know.”. Her experience observing the criminal justice system exposed her to the social emotional learning needs of children, a topic she is passionate about on the education beat. Krista Torralva covers several school districts and public universities in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. This support, which so many immigrants and refugees have received here, is why the Cities Index, a new report from the bipartisan nonprofit New American Economy, recently named San Antonio a highly livable city for immigrants. Thirteen percent of refugees are entrepreneurs compared with 9 percent of the U.S. born population. Map. Chart. Helen Omer plays on monkey bars on a playground at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center last spring. William Douglas colors in class at Pre-K 4 SA’s North Center in 2019. During the school year, the Pre-K 4 SA North Center had 97 students for whom English is a second language. … Einas Albadri is the refugee resettlement program manager at RAICES. The little boy repeated “ba-na-na,” enunciating each syllable, Cazares-Mesquiti said. She previously covered federal and state courts at the Orlando Sentinel and Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Isaac Rodriguez, left, builds a magnet tower as other kids play together at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center last spring. Many immigrants find a home in San Antonio, but that variety isn’t seen at the city-funded program’s three other centers. Like many immigrants and refugees, I was highly educated when I came to the United States — with a bachelor’s of law degree from Iraq — but I spoke no English. Kids’ names mark how tall they are on a measuring board at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center last spring. “It really hones in on the craft of the teacher to be able to provide that instruction and stay in tune with what the student is understanding and what the student is not understanding,” Raga said. By the second half of the school year, Varshik was the one waking up his dad to go to school, Manda said. It was exactly the welcome we needed after my family was forced to flee our native country, due to our association with the U.S. military. Niko Rodriguez, right, walks past other kids playing in a class at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center last spring. The parents also share a desire to preserve their children’s native language so they can communicate with family members back home. More. QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more. His teachers at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center didn’t know how to comfort him. Cazares-Mesquiti, a master teacher, said she tries to incorporate some of the children’s cultures in the preschool programming. I am now the resettlement program manager at the nonprofit RAICES, which provides legal services to underserved immigrant and refugee children and families in Texas. Roughly 1,800 refugees were relocated to San Antonio in the previous two fiscal years. She graduated from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi and calls South Texas home. Cazares-Mesquiti hung them to give the children a sense of home. Austin provides insight on resettlement in Texas, a state that is somewhat unusual in that it pulled out of the Federal Refugee … Eight years ago, when my eldest child and I arrived in San Antonio as Iraqi refugees, we had an empty apartment and one small bag of clothes. “My mom said I need an English book so I can learn English, but I don’t have an English book so I’m not reading it,” Varshik said. About half of Varshik’s class spoke another language before learning English. At the start of class one morning, each child was tasked with listing aloud words that rhymed before announcing their plan for the rest of the morning, an exercise in vocabulary. Before the school year let out, Varshik was one of the first in the morning group activity to speak up, which afforded him an early chance to dart for the toys. Varshik was very quiet during activities last fall, said his teacher, Lilyann Cazares-Mesquiti. His English vocabulary grew significantly over just eight months. Varshik Manda, center, plays with Trevor Steen on one of the five outside playgrounds at the Pre-K 4 SA North Center last spring. 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A. downtown area, ‘Beacon of light’ was going strong at 90 — until COVID struck, S.A. nurses and organizers demand help as COVID crisis continues, Student takes UTSA to court over COVID-19 suspension. In the beginning, Varshik didn’t want to go to school, said his father, Prasad Manda. At parent-teacher conferences, often with the aid of an older sibling who interprets, Cazares-Mesquiti sometimes finds her students have learned more English than their parents. Introduction . Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. I frequently get calls from the personnel offices of the city’s hotels, hospitals and food-processing plants, asking if we have new arrivals. Though some of her classmates speak the same languages at home, they converse in English at school. And I’m grateful to the people of San Antonio, who made a single mother from a faraway country feel right at home. Photo: Bob Owen /San Antonio Express-News. A vote to fund Pre-K 4 SA is a vote to support San Antonio’s future. Fortunately, I was accepted into the Prepare Adults For College (PACE) program, which enabled me to take free English classes and prepare for the community-college entrance exam. In teal frames on the classroom wall, above the children’s artwork, are family photos. Krista was often the new kid in class while her father’s military service sent her family to different parts of the country and Europe. While San Antonio’s Cities Index score on government leadership left room for improvement, the city has recently taken a new direction in appointing its first ever Immigrant Liaison, Tino Gallegos, earlier this year.