Longtime educator and consultant, Shane Safir, recently profiled OIHS's Community Walks on Edutopia. Thanks, Shane! Read an excerpt, below, and the entire piece here.
I recently attended a community walk at Oakland International High School (OIHS) in California, which serves newly arrived immigrants from 33 countries who speak 32 languages. This walk focused on unaccompanied minors from Central America—students who immigrated without papers or the presence of a legal guardian. We listened to students tell their immigration stories, interviewed a panel of support providers, and walked the Fruitvale neighborhood, where many students live. We ended our day at Centro Legal de la Raza, talking with a legal advocate about the impact of recent changes to immigration law. It was illuminating.
Why Do Community Walks?
Oakland International has been doing community walks with all of its major language and cultural groups for several years. According to principal Carmelita Reyes, the result is no...
You are invited to Oakland International High School's Spring Open House event to learn more about the amazing students, families, and educators in our community. (RSVP Required!)
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
8:30am - 3:00pm
Our Open House is a professional development opportunity for fellow educators, community members, district personnel, and others who are interested in learning about how our unique school works to meet the needs of our recently arrived immigrant and refugee students.
Oakland International High School is an alternative public school within the Oakland Unified School District. As a Full-Service Community School, we are dedicated to providing our students and their families with access to educational programs and social and emotional supports during and after the school day. We are happy to share our successes and challenges with the wider educational and non-profit community in service of our remarkable and resilient students and families.
Do you know what to say if a police stops you in the street and asks to search your things?
Do parents have the right to a translator at public schools in California?
Do undocumented workers have the same rights to workers' compensation and overtime as documented immigrants and citizens?
Should you ever tell the police your immigration status?
These are a few of the many questions that 11th grade students at Oakland International High School have been asking about their rights in the United States. For six weeks, they investigated the nuances of our rights in the United States as a part of an interdisciplinary project-based Know Your Rights unit in their Reading and Digital Media Arts classes (with Ms. Aly & Ms. Mallory).
After becoming experts in their rights, the students designed posters and wallet guides as tools to spread the knowledge. They have created strategic plans detailing how they will share their posters and wallet guides, based on location, foot traffic, and...
When Franklin Velasquez first showed up at Oakland International High School, he was seventeen, and had been out of school for a full year. He'd crossed into the US by himself, fleeing persecution in Guatemala, and spent a year working in day labor zones, doing gardening, construction, moving, and other irregular odd-jobs, while living with a distant relative. After a year of this, he was desperate to get back to school to continue his studies so he showed up at the front door late one August evening. "Can I come to school here?" he asked.
Though he wanted an education, school wasn't always easy for Franklin. In spite of how smart and determined he was, Franklin was working full time during 10th and 11th grades, and living alone. He was struggling to both support himself and keep up in school. Plus, he had no papers, and was fighting an immigration case with the help of his attorneys at OIHS partner agency, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.
In December, six OIHS alumni--from Burma/Thailand, Iraq, Eritrea, Yemen, and Mongolia--came back to talk to eighty five OIHS 12th graders about life after OIHS. While seniors are excited about what life after high school has in store, the notion of leaving OIHS--sometimes the only school they've attended in the United States, and the place where they learned to speak English--carries some serious anxiety. From choosing a major to how to communicate with teachers to the importance of checking your email to the value of personal responsibility, OIHS alumni shared their personal experiences and lessons from college life. "It was helpful to help me plan the future, starting now," said Yasser, a 12th Grader from Yemen. "Like when Eyad and Mohamed told me about their experiences choosing a major, that made me start really thinking about what I want to study in college, and what classes I want to take next year." Alumni admitted that being an English Language Learner is difficult in college,...
When nine year old Saleh Khalef was medevac-ed from Iraq to Oakland Children's hospital after mistaking a road-side bomb for a toy, returning to his studies was a far-off dream. Saleh spent several years in Oakland in and out of the hospital, facing surgery after surgery and struggling with ongoing physical challenges and medical interventions. But with the support of his family and his team of community members cheering him on, Saleh returned to school, joiningOIHS as a 9th grader four years ago. After serious physical and emotional trauma, and with a long gap in his learning, school was a challenge for Saleh, but he mustered his characteristic determination and will, working hard to access the class content, make friends, and come to school even on days when it felt too hard to do so. "I always appreciated Saleh's incredible perseverance and loved watching him grow into a thoughtful and inquisitive student," said Ryann Pollack, Saleh's former teacher at OIHS. Saleh's graduation story...
12th grader Carlos Sura came to the United States as an unaccompanied minor four years ago, long before the most recent influx to the United States. Since he began at Oakland International High School, he has grown tremendously as a student and as a speaker of English--and we are so proud of his recent article on the PBS Newshour's Education Blog applauding President Obama's recent immigration program.
"My parents will be able to apply to get a work permit and work legally here. If they get their papers, we will not have to worry anymore that they might be deported. We can just work hard for a better future for our family. We're trying to make a good life because now that we're in this country, we have a lot of benefits: we can get a good education, a job with a good salary, and we don't have those same opportunities in our home country. And here, we don't feel worried about the gangs anymore. We feel safe."
Carlos is using his voice to advocate for his fellow im
"These are children, period. And so what their legal status is, is immaterial. They're students. They deserve an education. So I'm part of that system that is the safety net for these children." -- OIHS Founding Principal, Carmelita Reyes.