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School At Any Cost: Former Refugees Seek Better Lives At Kansas City's Community Colleges

Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
Souleymane Adam, seen here with his younger brother Jasir Adam in their northeast Kansas City home, came to the United States after spending his teen years in a refugee camp in Chad.

The Kansas City area is home to three agencies that work with the federal government to resettle people displaced from their home countries by war, conflict and persecution. Those agencies — Jewish Vocational Services, Della Lamb Community Services and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas — welcome enough people to make refugee families a presence in the metro.

While not all resettled refugees find their way to a college campus, educators say those who do are highly motivated.

“They are the hardest-working people you will ever meet,” says instructor Ashley Lynd, who teaches English as a Second Language at Penn Valley Community College. “They face every obstacle under the sun, but they are more positive than most Americans, including myself.”

As KCUR discovered in a months-long reporting project, the challenges that refugee students confront are similar, but their lives and stories are vastly different.

Listen to the story of former refugee Souleymane Adam:

Barbara Shelly is a freelance contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at bshellykc@gmail.com.

Barbara Shelly is a freelance reporter and editor based in Kansas City, Missouri.
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