A PAIR of helping hands
A UH organization recently received grant money from the Jeremy Lin Foundation’s Make a Difference Program.
The Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees — along with Workshop Houston and Yellowstone Academy — is competing in an online contest to win publicity from Lin for its project.
“All three organizations are wonderful and doing terrific things for the community. But PAIR is the only one which specifically is UH affiliated. I am very interested in seeing if we could spread publicity about the online contest,” said theatre junior Jake Fiedler, program coordinator for PAIR.
Education junior Valerie Hang, PAIR president, said the organization is making a difference for refugee youth living in the U.S.
“PAIR empowers refugee youth to navigate American society, reach their academic potential and become community leaders through educational and mentoring programs,” Hang said.
“One of my favorite times during the weekly sessions is seeing the excitement in the eyes of my students when they learn something new, whether we’re doing a science experiment, creating musical instruments, or writing to a pen pal. I feel that all of these moments add up to inspire the students,” she said.
The PAIR program operates at Westbury High School, Las Americas Newcomer School and Fondren Middle School.
“On Tuesdays, we focus on reading and writing. We recently began a pen pal program between our two PAIR middle schools. Wednesdays focus on science: We explore different kinds of experiments, ranging from launching a bottle rocket to vinegar and baking soda to make Valentine’s Day love potions,” Fiedler said.
Hang said she gains a lot from her participation in the program.
“I feel so honored and lucky to be a mentor to the student refugees because I honestly believe that they are teaching me just as much as I am teaching them,” Hang said.
For Fiedler, the virtues of the program make it the perfect candidate to receive publicity from Lin.
“The organization, which receives the most votes on mad.jeremylinfoundation.org, will benefit from an entire year of personal exposure and visits from Jeremy Lin himself. Not only is PAIR close to the lead of winning this online campaign, but it is also the only UH-affiliated organization and would shed a tremendously positive light on University of Houston’s reputation if elected,” Fiedler said.
The contest ends March 7 and winning it could give more children the opportunity to succeed.
“You spend a few weeks with PAIR, and you start to notice how different our students are from one another, how distinguished each one is with a personality that shines. And then you spend a few months with PAIR, and you realize that these kids are the future,” Fiedler said.