Schools prepare for the arrival of refugees

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – Afghan and Haitian refugees are heading to Tucson, bringing with them challenges for local school districts. KGUN9 has more on how Districts prepare – and how there’s a chance the Air Force can help.

When the Afghans were evacuated to the United States, many brought with them large families — including many school-aged children.

In the Tucson area, TUSD, the Tucson Unified School District, and the Amphi District have a proud record of hosting refugees. TUSD says its students speak 105 languages. Sometimes the district uses services that translate over the phone.

TUSD says it is looking for translators who can speak Dari or Pashto, the major Afghan languages.

Refugee Coordinator Dr Selena Mahoney recalls the case of a boy who arrived before the groups that are arriving now. He learned when the pupils arrived that the main language was the language of welcome for the school principal, the teacher and classmates.

“This teacher greeted him warmly and assigned him a buddy for the day so that he had a buddy to accompany him all day and help him get to his new classes, they had similar schedules.”

Tucson has an unusual resource in uniform who may be able to help. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is the only Air Force location that houses EC-130M aircraft. They look like cargo planes, but they’re crammed with electronics that allow their crews to eavesdrop and disrupt enemy communications. This mission means that the EC-130s can carry crew members who speak Afghan languages.

A spokesperson for Davis-Monthan said aircrews are often on deployment, but if time permits, they may be able to use their language skills to help Afghans settle in Tucson.

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