Ensuring the Right to Education in Central Virginia - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Ensuring the Right to Education in Central Virginia

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The University of Virginia is working with teachers and students to make sure everyone has a positive educational experience in central Virginia. They are developing ways to build a better school environment for immigrant, refugee, and migrant students.

Fatuma Muhammad moved from Somalia to the United States in 2004. "Mostly in my country, womens [sic] are made cook, clean, watch kids. But to me, my dream is completely different … my dream is to become an FBI agent," she explained.

She's working hard to follow her dreams, but says that going to school in Charlottesville hasn't always been easy. "They made fun of me, the way I dress, my accent ... People think that Africa is just Africa, like there's nothing interesting about it. And they think it's all about hunger, and the war and stuff. But that's not true, and they never bother themselves asking," stated Muhammad.

Professor Carol Anne Spreen of the UVA Curry School of Education said, "We can rethink education and think about how to make it a really transformative process for all kids in the classroom."

Along with the UVA School of Law and Women's Center, the Curry School is giving about 10 students, including Muhammad, a chance to speak up and share their experiences through an education rights workshop.

"What we're trying to do is encourage students, community members, and members of migrant and immigrant communities, to think about how they can assert and work through the right to education in schools and in the classroom," said Spreen.

Muhammad will continue to do just that, defying traditional expectations and working to realize her dream.

"They think that there's nothing interesting about me. But to me, I have this big dream only I know and nobody else knows it," she said.

Organizers hope the workshop will begin a community conversation that will ultimately improve the classroom experience for all students, regardless of their origins.

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