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volunteer spotlight

"I love volunteering at SFIHS because it’s such a great group of kids."
- Lauren Nazario, RT Volunteer

Lauren is an after-school tutor at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) and is always an enthusiastic and positive presence in the tutoring room. Thanks Lauren for being an exemplary volunteer!

To read more from our dedicated volunteers, click here.


Click here to check out our blog and get the latest news on what we're up to at Refugee Transitions!

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RT's adult program, the ESL Civics Education and Orientation Program, includes the following components:


The core component of our ESL Civics Education and Orientation Program is our home-based tutoring service in which volunteers teach English to adults in students' homes. Volunteers currently teach in San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties.

Refugee Transitions provides preparatory training and resources to support volunteers, as well as the unique opportunity for volunteers to teach English as a Second Language to refugees and immigrants in the students' home environments. Refugee Transitions also provides family support services, giving priority to newly-arrived refugees and single mothers.

Together, the student and tutor address the life skills which the student has identified as the most important. Tutors also help students to learn the language and literacy skills needed to engage more actively in community activities, and to access important civic institutions and community resources. 


Our students come from all over the world. This program focuses on giving priority to students who are unable to attend regular ESL classes and cannot be reached by other programs.


Volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of six months and to work with their students 2-4 hours per week. Schedules are arranged between the volunteer and student. We try to place volunteers with someone who lives in a convenient location, although there are no guarantees. Volunteers must attend a preparatory Orientation and Training.  For more information on how to get involved, click here.


"I, hereby Phuong Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee who was relocated in San Francisco under H.O. program, respectfully write this letter to show my warmest and sincerest appreciation for the great helps you have done to me. Thanks to your help of assigning a teacher to teach me personally English and ways of living in America, I have been adapted to the new life easily and comfortably. My appreciation is also to Mr. Ponch Bhatia my teacher. Thanks to your help me how to apply the housing program. Thanks to your help pushing forward and contacting US Embassy in Bangkok for my family reunification, my 3 children and 2 grandchildren will come to the United States soon. Again, I would like to say thank you and wish the Refugee Transitions lasts for ever to provide help to other refugees."

-- Phuong, RT Student, Vietnam

"Working with MuSah has been a fulfilling and humbling experience for me.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I think the learning process has been mutual.  As I try to teach her about her new community and America, I have been learning grace, patience, and a positive attitude from her."

-- Minoo Ayat, RT Volunteer

To view a slideshow of images from our ESL Civics Education and Orientation Program, click here



Refugee Transitions recruits, trains, and supports members of the newly arrived refugee and immigrant communities as stipended community navigators.  RT's Community Navigator Interns (CNIs) are able to build skills while assisting members of their own ethnic groups to learn English, access local resources, and advance towards self-sufficiency.

CNIs are assigned to work with specific youth or adults and assist additional household members as needed.  Refugee Community Navigator Interns make a minimum commitment of 6 months - at least 50 hours of tutoring and 10 hours of record-keeping (maintaining and submitting monthly logs of hours and assisting with post-testing).  They also complete monthly progress reports and keep in touch with program staff.

Refugee Transitions identifies and recruits up to 12 individuals per year to train as CNIs.  Staff supervise the work of the CNIs and ensure that they are building their own professional skills as well as helping their assigned family.

Community Navigator Interns build their own English and professional development skills while serving their community.

  • Through their trainings and work on behalf of their clients, CNIs learn about and network with many local community-based organizations.
  • CNIs learn case management and other vocational and administrative skills.
  • CNIs constantly learn and use English in their role as interpreter and teacher.
  • RT staff helps CNIs create resumes, practice interview skills, and search and apply for appropriate jobs.

Clients build English skills and improve their ability to access local resources in the journey towards self-sufficiency.

  • Clients learn English through tutoring sessions with CNIs and Refugee Transitions Literacy Coaches.
  • Clients learn about local resources, identify helpful contacts in the community, and over the course of a year, gain the skills and confidence needed to access resources on their own.

  • To view a slideshow of our Refugee Community Navigator Interns, click here


Refugee Transitions is the only nonprofit agency in the Bay Area that sets up ESL civics classes at community sites. We hire qualified teachers, assess students using the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System and develop curriculum to meet the needs of the student population. If you would like to partner to set up a class at your community site, please e-mail our executive director, Laura Vaudreuil at laura@reftrans.org.   

We currently manage the following site-based classes:

San Francisco:

Arabic Cultural Community Center
Good Samaritan Family Resource Center
San Francisco Unified School District (Parent Classes):
  • Bryant Elementary
  • Cesar Chavez Elementary School


Clinton Park (former location for Oakland Adult School)
Oakland International High School
Regeneration Church
San Jose:
Franklin-McKinley School District:
  • Meadows Elementary School 



The Refugee Citizenship Project was established in 2011 to educate refugee communities about the naturalization process, and offers English language tutoring in preparation for the citizenship exam and assistance in completing the citizenship application.

RT is working with a partner agency to help Liberian and other refugees gain citizenship. The Refugee Citizenship Project is an extension of the agency’s ESL Civics Education and Orientation Program, which helps newcomers develop the language skills needed to access vital community resources and become active participants in their new communities.