Approximately 75 students, most of them newly arrived in the United States, recently celebrated that most American of holidays – Thanksgiving – as part of the District’s Port of Entry program.
The 10th annual Port of Entry dinner featured turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin and apple pies. In addition to the meal, a presentation on the history of Thanksgiving was served up by volunteers from the School-Based Youth Services Program and teachers, with presentations also made by two students.
“Our Port of Entry program is a comprehensive approach to help integrate newly arrived students not only into the District, but also to expose them to as much American history and culture as possible,” explains Nivia Rojas, Director of the School-Based Youth Services program.
The festive dinner, held at Jose Marti STEM Academy, is about more than exposure to American culture, Ms. Rojas says.
“We want the students to know they aren’t alone in this new experience. We want them to know there is always a place for them to go and that there are people here who care about them,” she adds.
There were many volunteers who helped set up and run the dinner, including: Social Workers Tom Tuchler, Jessica Caballos, Sharon Bale-Pena, Sandy Alzubi, Lynn Presley, Edith Aquije and Stephanie Cedeno; Sabrin Migbel, a Bilingual At-Risk Leader; Teachers Laura Maccuzak, Angela Martinez and Ivan Rivadeneyra; and Sgt. Gunny Reyes of the ROTC.