Refugee parents in
Thousands of their children are enrolled in the
Before my photographer Craig and I entered the classroom, there were just three Americans, we increased that number to five.
But we were still out numbered by Nepalese students.
"Ten years ago there were hardly any refugees, mostly a couple Bosnians," said Ann Metzgar, ESL Teacher at McKinley. "Since then today we have 80 ESL students, 70 of which are refugees 50 from
Metzger has been teaching at McKinley for the last 13 years and has spent 10 years teaching English as a second language.
Of those 1,161 students, 700 are refugees.
"They all come from refugee camps so it was pretty much every man for themselves when it comes to food," Metzgar said. "Here at first we saw them putting things in their pocket like breakfast and in a week or two they find out there's going to be food there every day."
It's certainly a better atmosphere and learning experience for Karuna and Pujan who are both refugees from
"There were a lot of bullies there and the water there was not good," said Karuna, McKinley student. "It was kind of disgusting they would put dead rats in the water fountain. And the teacher would beat us up if we got an answer wrong or if you were being bad."
They've had to adapt to the differences between the school system in
One major difference is the spoken language.
Both Karuna and Pujan had limited English speaking skills before coming to
"Now I think I'm kind of great at English and I think I'm helping my parents," Pujan said.
"I spoke a little bit of English," Karuna said.
Metzger says she makes lessons in the classroom fun by teaching with songs, pictures and dry erase boards.
She says it's rewarding for her to teach these students who are so passionate about education.
"I think they're very excited to be here," Metzgar said. "I think they know it's a privilege to be here. Their parents are very excited about them being here and that transfers to the students. They feel that school is the most important thing in their lives."