Since 2007, RSC Africa, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, has provided cultural orientation services to refugees destined for resettlement in the U.S. Cultural Orientation Trainers teach refugees about the processes and systems that will impact their resettlement to the United States, and seek to help refugees develop realistic expectations of the U.S. The RSC Africa team equips refugees with the skills and attitudes necessary to enable them to have a positive acculturation experience in the U.S.
All U.S.-destined refugees above the age of 15 participate in a three- to five-day curriculum that covers a host of topics related to the transition that refugees will face. Through exercises, discussions, video and hands-on-models, refugees learn about housing, employment, education, travel, healthcare and their legal rights in the United States. They are also introduced to key concepts such as the importance of learning English and how to apply for jobs once in the United States.
Cultural Orientation is approached as a continuum, and RSC Africa works to provide refugees with accurate information about the U.S. and resettlement at various points along their resettlement journey. Information is provided at RSC interview sites, in the refugee camps, at resource centers, transit centers and during formal cultural orientation classes. Like so many immigrants and refugees before them, those who attended were provided with the opportunity to take their first steps on the journey to self-sufficiency and integration into the fabric of the United States.
In FY 2015, the English as a Second Language program was fully operational in both Byumba Camp, Rwanda, and Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania. Classes are team taught by refugees who live in each camp, are university graduates, fluent in English, and have several years of teaching experience. The curriculum focuses on basic greetings, job interview skills, practical numeracy and literacy, and cultural competence. Between the two locations, 434 refugees completed a 60-hour, four-week intensive ESL class (as of 29 July 2015).