Khin, a young refugee, was struggling in his 2nd grade class.  It seemed that he ignored directions and didn’t pay attention during lessons.  He had a hard time with reading, especially aloud. His teacher tried to talk to his parents, but was hindered by language and cultural barriers.

The teacher knew that these issues had a root cause, and would only get worse if left unaddressed, so she referred Khin to the CIS of Seattle site coordinator at the school.  The site coordinator realized how important it was to communicate with Khin’s parents, so she brought in an organization that could bridge the communication and cultural gap.  The cultural organization provided context for the site coordinator, explaining why the family seemed disengaged from Khin’s school.  At the site coordinator’s urging, they brought in an interpreter, and rapidly came to understand why Khin seemed not to listen to his teachers.

Khin and his family had spent several years in a refugee camp, where cleanliness was almost impossible and illness was common.  Khin’s ears began to hurt often while in the camp, but without access to doctors, medicine, or even basic hygiene, the problem went undiagnosed and untreated.  After Khin’s family emigrated, they were unable to communicate Khin’s ear problems because of the language barrier.  As the interpreter relayed the tale from Khin’s parents, the site coordinator realized that Khin needed to see a doctor.  She made an appointment for Khin at a local clinic right away.  The clinic discovered that Khin suffered from chronic ear infections and needed ear surgery.  The site coordinator was able to work with the clinic and the refugee organization to get Khin the surgery he needed at no cost to his family.

After the surgery, Khin started to really enjoy school.  His teachers reported that he was catching up in his reading, and his grades and reading test scores reflected the change.  The teachers said he was like a different student.  He was happy, excited to come to school, and ready to learn. The site coordinator was able to connect Khin to the resources necessary to remove the barriers to his learning and help Khin achieve the success that he was always capable of.