Community Maplewood South Orange

SOMA Teens Meet Teens From Refugee Community for Connection & Summer Fun

A new, free summer program is connecting South Orange/Maplewood teens with teens from the Syrian and Iraqi refugee community.

Village to Village United (V2V) grew out of discussions between a group of SOMA parents of teens and a refugee outreach coordinator based in Elizabeth. Refugee families who have recently arrived struggle with learning a new language and economic hurdles, and for the most part are unable to send their children to summer programs.

“We expect approximately 25 teens from Elizabeth to come to Maplewood for the program,” said Ellen Kahaner, who is one of the organizers of the program and whose daughter, CHS student Sylvia Osner, will be participating.

V2V is for teens (ages 14-18) and will meet once a week in July/August. Teens can sign up for 1 to 5 sessions on the SignUpGenius link. The program includes a trip to the Newark Museum for a teen tour and jazz concert, art workshops at the Maplewood Library, hiking in the South Mountain Reservation, and a writing workshop and art exhibit at the library. All activities will be led by experienced ESL teachers and parent volunteers. There will be an orientation session for SOMA teens on July 11.

The V2V parent organizers include:

  • Lisa Basile is an ESL teacher at Bloomfield High School.
  • Ellen Dreyer is an author, editor, and writing teacher.
  • Meg Engelhard trains and coaches teachers in Newark, Orange, Passaic, and Elizabeth.
  • Samar Hussaini is a mixed media artist exhibiting her work in local, national, and international galleries.
  • Ellen Kahaner is a writer and retired elementary school Reading Specialist who now teaches adult literacy.
  • Julie Kelman is an ESL teacher who has worked with student from around the world.
  • Ina Rimpau is a librarian at Maplewood Memorial Library.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our teens to learn, to connect, to reflect and have fun,” said Kahaner.

Here is the link to a description of the program and the SignUpGenius:

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