2016 Archives

Laptops empower refugees in Texas to learn English, integrate into the community

Devices are gifts from SMU students


The following is from the Nov. 22, 2016, edition of KERA public radio.

November 23, 2016


Imagine coming to this country and not knowing how to speak the language. More than 7,800 refugees came to Texas during the 2016 fiscal year, and many of them didn’t know English. 

Advocates say learning it quickly can help newcomers transition to living in the U.S. more easily, especially at a time when resettling refugees here has become a hot-button political issue.

It’s Saturday and about a dozen adults in a nondescript East Dallas office building are powering up new laptops.

The devices are gifts from students at Southern Methodist University.

The adults in the classroom are new to Dallas and the country. They came here with the help of the International Rescue Committee, which resettles refugees in the U.S.

They’re from Congo, Burma, Iran and Eritrea, and they speak little or no English. Some have been in the U.S. a little more than a month.

With the help of an interpreter and SMU volunteers, they’re learning how to use their new laptops and a software program that will teach them to speak English.

Read or listen to the full story. audio icon