Our Students

Representing over 50 countries in our community

There are approximately 750-1,000 refugees resettled yearly in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to being a home for thousands of refugees, the Bay Area hosts a number of asylees and is a new home to millions of immigrants from around the world.   

We work with the most socially and linguistically isolated members of the San Francisco Bay Area's refugee, immigrant, and asylee communities.  

Our students come from over 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, China, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, and Yemen. Many of RT’s students have spent the majority of their lives in rural refugee camps or as internally displaced persons; most have survived traumatic experiences in their homelands, including loss of family members and torture.

The countries where RT students come from are in orange. The deeper the orange color, the larger the number of RT students that come from this country. 

The countries where RT students come from are in orange. The deeper the orange color, the larger the number of RT students that come from this country. 


Challenges for Newcomers

The challenges newcomers face adjusting to a new culture--one that is both foreign and urban--are significant. Before their relocation to the U.S., few of our students have had access to quality education, healthcare, employment opportunities, or career training. Many of our students have lived in war zones and are not literate in their native languages.  

Almost all of our newcomer youth students have lost critical years of their educational development due to war, poverty, and relocation. Despite the fact that many of these youth newcomers have lost critical years of schooling (or may never have attended formal schooling at all), they are assigned to American classrooms based on their age, with limited support, language assistance, or orientation to the U.S. school system. Compounding these challenges, newcomer parents are often not familiar with the American education system and often lack the skills necessary to advocate for their child.

Upon arrival in the United States, many newcomer families live in economically disadvantaged inner-city areas. Navigating their way amid urban violence, inadequate housing, and poor schools, many feel that they have been transported from one war zone to another. Refugee Transitions’ students are often among the least prepared to adapt to such an environment, as many come from rural backgrounds, have little or no formal education, and are isolated and home-bound in their new communities due to childcare responsibilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, or physical ailments.

Newcomer Resilience and Leadership


Despite the challenges they face, newcomers are often resilient and determined to succeed. Many will contribute to our Bay Area economy by developing ethnic markets, improving local neighborhoods, and opening small businesses. Others will strengthen our community and civic leadership by adding new voices and different opinions. Perhaps most importantly, all newcomers add to the diversity and culture that makes the San Francisco Bay Area an enjoyable home for so many. We want to build on the resilience and strength of our students and believe in supporting newcomer leadership. We hope you will join us in our mission and change your world