Refugee Transitions stands shoulder to shoulder with Muslims and other refugees who have been barred from entering the U.S., as well as immigrants forced to flee their countries due to war, violence, persecution, and/or extreme economic duress. We commend Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and a refugee herself, for proclaiming her intention to "stand ready" to register as Muslim if Donald Trump took executive action that affects immigrants traveling to the U.S.

We support the nationwide efforts to save refugee resettlement and oppose any proposed ban on Muslims entering the country.

We commend Mayor Ed Lee (San Francisco) and Mayor Libby Schaaf (Oakland) for upholding Sanctuary City policies that reflect our Bay Area (and American!) values of compassion and diversity.

"The growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939," wrote The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in 2015. But the story of U.S. refugee resettlement was not always this shameful. Since 1975, our country has welcomed more than 3 million refugees, not only saving them from brutal regimes but also inviting them to rebuild their lives and contribute to their full potential.

With 30 years of experience, Refugee Transitions has seen firsthand how extensive the admission and vetting process is for refugees. There is no evidence to suggest that the process is mired in failure. In fact, refugees are by far the most rigorously processed category of people seeking entry to the U.S. See our most recent film, A Wish to Give Backabout a refugee family from Burma--it took them 2 years to secure approval for resettlement. And refugees from Syria, Iraq, and other predominantly Muslim countries go through even more extensive screening.

At Refugee Transitions, we work with forced migrants who have experienced war, violence, persecution, and/or extreme economic duress. Many are survivors of some of the worst atrocities of the 21st century. But in spite of those challenges, our students inspire us every day with their courage, resilience, and fierce dedication to contributing to our shared communities. Furthermore, research has repeatedly shown that migrants benefit their new communities by starting businesses, paying taxes, supporting local businesses, and enriching our cultures.

We are honored that friends from Syria joined our community recently. We strongly urge the U.S. government to continue the Syrian resettlement program, and indeed, increase the number of those admitted from the 2016 count of 12,000+.

We stand by our conviction that refugees, asylees, and immigrants must be welcomed in our communities, and we invite you to stand with us!

Take action now to call your Senators and Representatives!

Find your Representative
Find your Senator

Posted
AuthorAndrew Bogrand
CategoriesRT News

January 23, 2017

As we transition to the new Administration in Washington, D.C., it's a fitting time for us at Refugee Transitions to reaffirm our commitment to community, diversity, and human rights.

rt historical picture
 

Refugee Transitions was founded on the same principles that drove crowds to attend Women's Marches in cities across the nation. These principles include a deep respect for human rights, and an abiding support for the rights of women. Indeed, we started as The Refugee Women's Program in 1982, providing services to socially and linguistically isolated newcomers such as new mothers, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Today, the journey for newcomers has become more difficult. But our commitment to easing their transition and nurturing their strengths is deeper than ever. In fact, as the balance of power changes in Washington, D.C., we're taking extra steps to strengthen our support of the individuals and families we serve. You can learn more in our statement published here. 

We invite you to JOIN US in building community, encouraging cross-cultural relationships, and promoting solidarity with our newcomer friends and neighbors.

rt community event
 

Many in our community are asking how they can make a difference. Here is a selection of ideas:

1.  RAISE AWARENESS, ENCOURAGE DISCUSSION & LISTEN

Share newcomer stories to encourage empathy, build solidarity, and challenge the dominant narrative about migration.

Share our new documentary, A Wish to Give Back: One Family's Journey to Community Leadership, with friends, family members, and your community. Check out our youth story project, Pursuing Dreams, or our cookbook, Between MealsConsider hosting a solidarity event, and if you are a foodie, turn to Between Meals for a range of delicious authentic recipes that your friends will love. You will be inspired by the many rich contributions newcomers gift to our society--something we feel is so often overlooked.

2.  MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Learn about what advocacy organizations are doing to support human rights, and take action by calling your representatives or signing petitions.

3. ENGAGE & LEARN FROM NEWCOMERS

Administrations come and go, but being kind, encouraging, and willing to learn will never go out of style. So, at a time of fear and rising uncertainties, lend a helping hand when you can, and listen to the perspectives and experiences of courageous and resilient folks that we are proud to call our neighbors. Read articles such as this one by our advisor Clemantine Wamariya. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about the contributions newcomers are making, and share our posts when you find something that inspires you and lifts your spirit.

4. GIVE

Your ongoing support helps us make tangible impact in our shared communities. You are helping our newcomer students learn English, graduate high school, acquire valuable job and community leadership skills, get citizenship, and successfully navigate life in the U.S. From youth leader stipends, to books and technology for our classes, to community workshops--every dollar makes a difference!

Thank you for your support of our cause!

Posted
AuthorAndrew Bogrand
CategoriesRT News

December 15, 2016: "An English language class that benefits both parents and children" by Hannah Kingsley-Ma

"In a sun-filled classroom at an Oakland high school, a room full of adults are learning English.

Everyone here is a refugee, asylum seeker, or recent immigrant who has resettled in the East Bay, and each has sought out this free English language class offered by the nonprofit Refugee Transitions. Parents and relatives of kids in the Oakland Unified School District can sign up first.

These adult students hail from countries like Burma, Peru, Yemen and China. Some have college degrees, some never went to school, but they’re all eager to learn, in part to be better equipped to participate in their children’s education."

Read more on the KALW Local Public Radio website! 

Posted
AuthorAndrew Bogrand
CategoriesRT in the Media
 

In 2016, RT teamed up with filmmaker Kate Lord to present this documentary film about an amazing newcomer family living in Oakland. They came to the U.S. as Karen refugees. The family are participants in RT's education, family engagement, and community leadership programs. They exemplify the ethos of giving back to the community, and we are truly honored to have them as friends and neighbors.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Bogrand
CategoriesRT Stories
 

Refugee Transitions is proud to present our web-based story series, Pursuing Dreams: Stories of Refugee and Immigrant Youth in California! This project consists of a documentary film and 14 written stories submitted to us in 2015 by our youth students. The stories span the world and a variety of human experiences, but what they share in common is the resilience and determination of our amazing students. We strongly believe that sharing these stories will help in the great task of building more welcoming and inclusive communities.

california humanities
 

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities,
a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For more information, visit www.calhum.org.

Posted
AuthorRefugee Transitions
CategoriesRT Stories
 

An innovative narrative cookbook by Dani Fisher and Lauren Markham, Between Meals shares the expertise, recipes and stories of newly arrived refugee women in the Bay Area. This book documents traditional recipes from around the world--from Burma to Liberia to Afghanistan--from Refugee Transitions' participants, written down with the help of their Refugee Transitions tutors. Between Meals tells the stories of students' exile from their home countries, their journeys to the United States, and their efforts--literally and metaphorically--to nourish their families in their new California homes. Our goal was to give voice to these women's stories, giving them the professional treatment that they deserve as expert cooks with deep culinary wisdom. More info and excerpts here

calhum
 

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities,
a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For more information, visit www.calhum.org.

KQED Bay Area Bites: "Liberian and Burmese Refugees Celebrate Christmas in Oakland" 

PRI: "These Liberian and Myanmar Refugees Cook Up Old, and New, Christmas Traditions" 

Design Sponge: "In the Kitchen with Halimo's Malawah and Spiced Milk Tea" 

Liza Ramrayka: "Feeding the Spirit" (also featured on The Guardian's Pick of the Blogs)

Taking Refuge: "A Home-Cooked Meal from Burma" 

Liza Ramrayka: "Dining to Make a Difference on World Refugee Day" (This article spotlights RT's World Refugee Day 2015 food event inspired by Between Meals. For this event, RT partnered with 4 restaurants in San Francisco and Oakland that donated a portion of proceeds to RT and/or created special dishes for World Refugee Day.) 

April 9 & 10, 2016: Between Meals featured at the LA Times Festival of Books and presented at the Food Futures panel. Thank you California Humanities!

Posted
AuthorRefugee Transitions
CategoriesRT Stories


RT Unlocks Opportunity, 2014

 

Created by RT staff, RT Unlocks Opportunity is a quick introduction into the programs and impact of RT. Special thanks to Weston Kramer for his guidance on video creation.

Refugee Transitions: Change Your World, 2013

 

Meet some of our wonderful students! Filming generously donated by Simba Global Pictures

Want to see our older videos? Check out RT's Youtube channel

 

Posted
AuthorRefugee Transitions
CategoriesRT Stories

For coverage of our Between Meals cookbook, please head to the Between Meals section.

"Once Upon a Time a Refugee" on Tandem Blog, 2016

RT is mentioned in our partner Tandem's article "Once Upon a Time a Refugee: Stories of Resilience and Strength" published in conjunction with World Refugee Day 2016. 

EdSource Story on Refugee Parent Engagement, 2016

RT is mentioned in the EdSource article "To reach parents, schools try universal language on data". This article is helpful for anyone who would like to know about the problems many of our students face.

RT Student Halimo in Vice, 2015

 

RT student Halimo, whose story and recipes were also included in our Between Meals cookbook, was featured in the second episode of the Munchies Refugee Chefs show!

Nakachi Clark-Kasimu in Voices in Urban Education, 2015

Our former After-School Program Coordinator, Nakachi Clark-Kasimu, was interviewed for Voices in Urban Education about serving refugee and unaccompanied minor students. Click here to read this in-depth interview

RT on Bay Area Focus, 2014

 

Jane Pak, RT's Director of Strategy and Development, and Nakachi Clark-Kasimu, After-School Program Coordinator, presenting our services on KBCW-TV's Bay Area Focus talk show.

RT on ABC7 Bay Area, 2012

 

Laura Vaudreuil, executive director of Refugee Transitions, explains the agency's needs, services, and mission to Cheryl Jennings in ABC7's Behind the Headlines look at literacy.

RT in Forced Migration Review, 2012

In "Mentoring for resettled youth," Lauren Markham provides a thoughtful perspective on why newcomer youth need special support, and how they work with RT to create paths to self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. 

RT on Alice @ 97.3, 2011 

Alice @ 97.3 FM featured a discussion of Refugee Transitions' services with Executive Director Laura Vaudreuil and also highlighted a performance at San Francisco's ODC Theater, featuring the performances of two Refugee Transitions students. See the full interview here.  

RT on KQED, 2010

RT Volunteer Hope Richardson

RT Volunteer Hope Richardson

 

RT Volunteer Hope Richardson was featured in "The Giving State" on KQED's California Report. This program highlights the ways Californians are giving back to their state. Hope was selected and discussed her volunteer work with Refugee Transitions. Listen to the full interview here

Posted
AuthorRefugee Transitions
CategoriesRT in the Media