Written by Erica Williams
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees from all over the world in the fiscal year 2016. With thousands driven to leave their homes due to unrest and warfare, the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) was established in 1873 to assist refugees in the transition from Ethiopia to life in the U.S. Since then, the ECDC has grown large enough to help refugees from other nations and parent smaller organizations such as the African Community Center.
On Tuesday, Yazan Fattaleh of the African Community Center in Denver spoke at Sacred Grounds. Organized by the Colorado College Refugee Alliance, Fattaleh spoke about his career as a Youth Career and College Counselor, as well as spearheading the Career Discovery and On TRAC! Programs.
He works with young adults mainly on preparing for and applying to college and GED programs. He detailed what he called the, “I can’t afford school” culture. “It’s important to ground their desires in reality,” said Fattaleh, about the availability of need-based financial aid, scholarships, and the option of enrollment at community college.
In many cases for these students, work must fit into the same schedule as school. “What most of these students do is go to the community college in Denver for two years, and then transfer to Metro State or [University of Colorado at Boulder], because [the community college] is right in downtown Denver, and it’s easy to find a job while they’re studying,” he said.
Fattaleh helps refugees find jobs and said, “Fortunately, many employers in Denver have to pay their employees more than minimum wage in order to keep employees.” Refugees are often able to get jobs as security guards, where “they can sit at a desk and study, and pop-up if there’s a problem,” and it pays “around $13-$15 dollars an hour.” Fattaleh added that working at a hotel “as a breakfast attendant, for example” is common.
Fattaleh works with students and looks at their class schedule to find what kind of job fits them best.
CC Refugee Alliance Co-Chair, senior Sara Colombo, said, “I think that for students who maybe didn’t know a lot about resettlement and college programs with refugees really learned a lot from this discussion. [Fattaleh] is so well-informed about this topic that it really was a great talk to have with students.”
The CC Refugee Alliance held its first meeting during Block 2 of this school year. They meet every first and third Tuesday, and accept one-time and regular volunteers to help with things like transportation, event support, and the like. For more information email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.