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Nonprofit Organization Partners with Lancaster School to Help New Immigrants and Refugees Adjust to Life in the United States


Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania, in partnership with IU-13, will provide cultural navigation services to students and parents at Fulton Elementary School

YORK, PA – Lancaster is known to be a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. This includes its schools.

“I have a group from Israel, Haiti, parts of Africa,” said Steve Sohonyay, principal of Fulton Elementary School.

But during the pandemic, the nonprofit Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania noticed that refugee and immigrant students and their parents had a harder time re-engaging with their schools after virtual learning ended.

“School is back in person, and these families face additional challenges in returning to school and succeeding,” said Jessica Knapp, executive director of Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania.

Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania, in partnership with IU-13, will provide cultural navigation services to students and parents at Fulton Elementary School in Lancaster.

“Getting a cultural browser is a proactive way to involve families in schools and build a reciprocal relationship,” Sohonyay said. Same page and everyone is taken care of.

The cultural navigator will be based in the school building in order to better access the students and their families.

“So whether they need help with housing, whether they need help with food, whether they need help making a medical appointment or understand some insurance information that ‘they received it in the mail, whatever it was that might be, the Cultural Navigator might be able to help them do that, ”Knapp said.

The organization and the school say they are also preparing to help new Afghan refugees who will settle in the area.

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