Every year, thousands of refugees who are fleeing war and persecution are resettled to cities across the United States where they are able to rebuild their lives. Unlike other newcomers to the U.S., refugee integration starts in the country of asylum. First contact and cultural orientation begin before refugees depart for the U.S., and orientation continues as communities are resettled in the USA.
According to the most recent data from the Department of Homeland Security, Bhutan,Burma, and Iraq are the leading countries of nationality for refugee admissions, with 71% of admissions in 2012 being from these countries. On average, refugees are younger than the native-born population. In 2012, thirty-two percent of refugees were younger than 18 years, suggesting that refugee children may have a strong presence in schools in the cities where they are resettled.
CAL has been a leader in refugee education and orientation since 1975, helping refugee newcomers understand fundamental aspects of life in the United States and helping service providers and other interested parties understand the rich cultures and linguistic heritages of the new members of their communities. CAL serves as a national technical assistance provider on both overseas and domestic refugee orientation and on the backgrounds and resettlement needs of new refugee groups. Activities include training; development of print, audiovisual, and web resources; research; dissemination and exchange of information throughout an international network of refugee service providers; and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on refugee orientation and refugee groups.
The Cultural Orientation Resource (COR) Center, housed at CAL from 2000 to 2015, provided technical assistance regarding the cultural and community orientation refugees receive, either before their resettlement in the United States or after their arrival, as well as about their likely resettlement needs.
CAL's Immigrant and Refugee Integration team is working in partnership with HIAS and several other agencies on this pilot project, supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, to facilitate the creation of linkages between refugees and receiving communities.
The Welcome to the United States guidebook provides valuable information to help refugees prepare for the first few months in the United States.
Developed as a companion to the DVD Refugee Families and Youth in the United States, this informative guide incorporates segments of the video into engaging activities. Connecting Diverse Cultures features practical and effective activity plans designed to help facilitators, teachers, and trainers increase understanding of and appreciation for other cultures and beliefs.
Two videos, combined on on DVD, designed to assist refugees and refugee service providers in learning about the adjustment of refugee families and youth to their new lives in the United States.
This comprehensive curriculum is designed to equip refugee service providers with an effective and efficient approach to orientation. Orientation is part of a package of mandated core resettlement services provided for newly arrived refugees during the Reception and Placement (R&P) period, a refugee’s first 30 to 90 days in the United States.
CAL supports refugee and immigrant integration through the development of orientation programs for newcomers, their service providers, and other members of their receiving communities. Programs and services can be customized to meet your needs.
News & Events
For many years, Oakland International High in Oakland, CA, has provided a point of entry for immigrant students, and a model for educating newcomers.
The Internationals Network for Public Schools is working to improve graduation rates for English learners through the opening of targeted programs that place ELs on a level playing field with their peers.
A public high school in Bowling Green, KY aims to help immigrant and refugee students succeed by providing them ways to develop their English language skills and deal with traumas they may have encountered in their home countries.
A Rhode Island school district is partnering with a refugee resettlement organization to offer language support and help from social workers as part of the district's newcomers program.
An Arizona middle school's seventh-graders, who recently sent care packages to newly arrived refugee students from Sudan, Syria and Congo but who now live in their state, recently received thank you letters.
One California school district has hired many new noncredentialed bilingual instructional assistants to help with the influx of refugees coming into the area from places such as Syria and Afghanistan.