Soon after Mohamed “Mo” Kilani arrived in Maine in May 2009, he was enrolled in our LearningWorks Afterschool program for elementary school students. When asked about that time, Mo says, “My limited English proficiency and fear of the unknown in this new country consumed my thoughts. I appreciated the second chance that my family and I received, yet I remained fearful of being the outcast. My concerns were quickly negated as the West End neighborhood welcomed my family with open and loving arms.”
“With the help of LearningWorks, I was taught to embrace myself for who I truly am–as Mohamed Kilani, the refugee who brings new talent and opportunity to his new community.”
Rather than going home after school, LearningWorks allowed Mo to attend English courses, interactive science labs, cooking courses, and more. When school ended in late June that year, Mo’s mother was worried that he would not be practicing English with the same intensity. Fortunately, Mo was able to seamlessly transition into our summer program, which offers five weeks of extended learning opportunities that include field trips, science projects, arts learning, and more. Mo says that the summer program “provided such care, along with a loving faculty that I remain in touch with today. My summer was filled with fun activities that truly eased my transition. I remained going to LearningWorks Afterschool in fifth grade–where I was presented with the opportunity to attend the Chewonki Boys Camp the following summer. Not only did LearningWorks present the opportunity, but they also helped pay for its cost.
“I am forever thankful for having the LearningWorks community in my life. Without LearningWorks, I would not the same successful young man that I strive to be. I strongly believe that the American Dream is a valid phenomenon; my family’s perseverance along with the aid we have received has made it a reality. As I begin my next chapter at Bowdoin College, I want to take a moment and appreciate all I have been blessed with. I trace my accomplishments to LearningWorks–they are the reason I was able to take on the English language. I am certain that they will continue to initiate success stories like mine for other children.”
Photography Courtesy of Smith Galtney