BCCC's Refugee Youth Project

CAC Member:  Roberto Dyea

My name is Roberto Dyea (Tsi YOO Nah), the RYP Art Teacher, located at Moravia Park Elementary School.  I cannot express how all of my students have given me hope and excitement to teach them. We did learn many aspects of each other through the art-making days.  Some days were happy, and some were hard days, but all of us were able to excel in our goals. Our long term-project is called Who You Are and How You Want to Be Known. This became a unique project for all of us to create our patterns that involve geometric shapes, irregular shapes, and letters based on their personality and cultural background if they wish to share. We all had an opportunity to think about their identity based on their interests, goals, past, experiences, hobbies, talents, family, ancestors, and much more critically. We all learned the real nature of the composition, which is the arrangement of the visual elements or "ingredient" for the main feature of the art piece or the focus of the art piece. In other words, we know how to balance the shapes and forms without overwhelming our pattern piece. This project has opened our minds through our talents and ambitions.

The Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project (RYP) seeks to improve the lives of Baltimore’s youngest refugees by supporting their academic needs and making their integration meaningful and straightforward. RYP is committed to its mission of creating a safe environment for refugee children to improve their literacy skills, enhance their knowledge of American culture, engage in enriching extracurricular activities, and grow to be confident, caring individuals.

Goals of the program: 

  • Furnish homework help, enhancing core academic skills, in a safe after-school space
  • Provide refugee youth general and targeted practice of the English language
  • Prevent high school refugees from dropping out and assist high school seniors with transitioning to college or a career program
  • Promote creative self-expression to build self-esteem, foster a sense of community among diverse populations and explore themes of cultural identity
  • Educate the Baltimore community about young refugees and their families being resettled in the surrounding area

Since 2003, the Refugee Youth Project has been providing quality after-school and mentoring programs for newly-arrived refugees between the ages of 4 and 21.  It was established when refugee and asylee parents taking adult ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at Baltimore City Community College became concerned with the academic success of their children. RYP began with one site and 12 children and has since expanded to meet the needs of over 300 pre-K through 12th-grade students in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.  

In 2007, RYP started its community arts program through a partnership with the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Walters Art Museum. The Refugee Youth Project currently serves newcomers from over 17 different countries, including Bhutan, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mauritania, and Sudan.