Learn about how Pioneer’s youth services, Selma Carson Home worked with a teenage boy on his studies while he was waiting for his immigration hearing.
Rubin is a 16 year old Mexican boy whose father disappeared after he was born leaving his mother to raise the family. When Rubin was seven years old his mother died and he moved in with his grandmother in a small northeastern Mexican town. His grandmother was the cornerstone of the family, but Rubin always needed to work to keep food on the table. A few months ago, Rubin was apprehended at the U.S. border for illegally entering the country. In desperation to earn money for his grandmother, and no legal work to be found in his town, he got caught up in delivering contraband over the border for cash.
After being apprehended, Rubin was sent to the youth services, Selma R. Carson Home (SRCH) that Pioneer operates in Washington State. The 23-bed facility serves undocumented and unaccompanied boys between the ages of 12 and 17 who are in the United States, and are, or will be, going through immigration proceedings. The SRCH works with the Federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to assist in family reunification efforts. The residents attend in-house school and participate in recreational and counseling programs as needed while waiting for their immigration hearing.
When Rubin first entered SRCH he was shy, soft spoken, and very worried about which way his life was headed. During his assessment, Pioneer found out that in Rubin’s 16 years in Mexico he had only attended school up to the third grade due to his work schedule to help out his grandmother. This is common in his hometown where the one-room school is open only on weekends. The majority of the children work full-time during the week and Rubin also worked many weekends so he missed a lot of school.
Since Rubin’s arrival at SRCH, he has improved tremendously in his school studies, especially considering he did not attend school for the last eight years of his life. At the beginning, his math, history and science skills were very basic at best. For example, his skills in math consisted of simple single digit addition and subtraction; multiplication and division were a foreign concept to him. The SRCH teacher gave him a remedial packet that covered basic math and slowly introduced him to fractions and equations. Rubin excelled in his studies and won ‘Student of the Week’ which made him very proud as he had never won a scholastic award.
After much studying and self-determination Rubin enrolled in the pre-algebra program to earn credits for high school. He worked very hard and scored 80% in his tests. Rubin stated, “I really like school and have learned that I can pass tests if I apply myself.” He added, “The teachers here push me and believe in me. I never have had that encouragement in my life before.” He continues to be a role model for other students and very helpful to staff.
Since Rubin now realizes he is more than capable of finishing basic schooling, he is highly motivated to go back to school in his home country. Rubin plans to enroll in school when he gets back to Mexico and pursue his studies. He is even looking into the possibility of living with relatives in another Mexican town where there would be better schools and more jobs. The future ahead looks brighter and Rubin now understands he will have more options if he believes in his abilities and continues his education.