GET TO KNOW OUR STUDENTS!
After graduating from PAIR programs, our students find meaningful life lessons and career paths. Some of our students have shared their experiences and wisdom:
Fleeing the Congo in 2001, Noella and her family lived in Rwanda for 12 years. In 2013, she and her family arrived in Houston to start a new chapter. At age 17, Noella began attending her new high school as a Junior. She remembers, "I had a big, big accent and no hair when I arrived, so I seemed weird and some kids bullied me. When a teacher assigned me to work in a group of American kids, they refused to work with me. I went home and thought, 'I don't want to go back to school". The transition to a new school presents many challenges to newcomers like Noella; isolated from other students, they often face prejudice, difficult cultural adjustment, and limited English proficiency. Noella attended PAIR for her two years at Westbury High, and she credits PAIR for providing her a safe environment to ask questions and make friends. Noella graduated in 2016, and is planning to attend UTSA in the fall to study chemistry. Noella is the first in her family to go to college. She wants to work in medicine to help kids who don't have access to care.
"My parents' dreams are on me. They say, 'You are the only one to take away our pain.' I want to accomplish my dreams so bad!"
Klo was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, after his family fled Myanmar (Burma) before his birth. Like thousands of Burma’s ethnic Karen people, they were escaping government attacks. Even the refugee camps in Thailand were not always safe, forcing the family to move several times when Burmese soldiers threatened. Klo remembers that “we had to work every day to eat, grow vegetables, raise livestock, make some money (difficult when working outside the camp was illegal), and go to school. Sometimes we lacked enough money or food to eat.” He walked many miles each way to school, without proper shoes.
Seven years ago, Klo and his large family moved again – to southwest Houston! Though excited by the chance to live in peace, the adjustment has had challenges. Without knowing a word of English, Klo spent miserable weeks in elementary school right after his arrival – bewildered, bullied, “lost. I remember crying and my heart filled with depression. I was filled with enormous regret and wanted to return to Thailand.”
Klo graduated from Westbury High School in 2016 and is excited to start his career!
After fleeing a tribal war in the Congo, Ludreche and his mother lived as refugees in Gabon for 11 years until they were approved for resettlement in the United States in 2009. Ludreche started school in Houston in December as a 6th grader, which he remembers as one of the scariest and hardest times of his life. "The first day of school was terrifying because when I walked into the classroom, everyone stared. I couldn’t understand a word the teacher was saying. In a short time, I had gone from a rural refugee settlement in Gabon where I knew everyone to a huge city where I didn’t speak the language or know anybody," he remembers.
Ludreche considers two extra-curricular activities to be his saving graces during this difficult transition, Cross Country running and PAIR. Ludreche feels that running is "his freedom" and enjoys pushing himself to improve. Through his active participation in PAIR's programs for 6 years, Ludreche improved his English and achieve his academic goals. He graduated from Westbury High School in 2016 and will travel to Kansas to attend Allen Community College in the fall.