Gabbie Albert on Being a Refugee Tutor

Gabbie Albert, a sophomore from Pittsburgh, plans on majoring in Politics and International Affairs and minoring in Journalism. Gabbie began volunteering at the Student Association for the Advancement of Refugees (SAFAR), as a freshman and now tutors an Arab refugee family with five young boys in Winston Salem each week.

Her Campus: How did you hear about SAFAR and how did you become involved?

Gabbie Albert: One of my professors last year found out that I was of Arab descent, and so she recommended the program to me because she had already worked with it and knew it would be an incredible opportunity for me to connect with an Arab refugee family living in Winston Salem. When I first started to volunteer at the program, I wasn’t as involved as I wanted to be — just helping with fundraisers — so this year I became more involved as a weekly tutor.

HC: Were you previously involved with any program similar to SAFAR?

GA: I did some community service in high school, and I used to tutor at the language media center where people could go to for languages. I used to peer tutor for Spanish.

HC: What has been your favorite memory from your experience tutoring?

GA: I tutor five little boys between the ages of 5 and 11 years old. My favorite memory was when I was helping one of them read an English book, teaching him how to pronounce and understand the English words. While I taught him the English words, he translated the words into Arabic since the family knew I could speak some Arabic. It was a really special moment to learn from each other, despite the language barrier.

HC: What has been the biggest challenge working with SAFAR?

GA: There aren’t any big challenges being that I’m also from an Arab family, but I guess the cultural differences and the language barrier can be difficult to navigate. The family also practices a completely different religion, so identifying what is appropriate and what’s not can be difficult.

HC: Has the tutoring program influenced your future career goals?

GA: SAFAR is loosely related to my potential career path. I ideally would like to work for the United Nations to help refugee families and other humanitarian crisis we face today.