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Settling down in an unfamiliar country is incredibly challenging for many immigrants and refugees, and finding support services and educational opportunities can be difficult. Southern New Hampshire University is attempting to make this transition easier by supporting the formation of an influential new resource.

SNHU has partnered with YWCA New Hampshire to establish the Center for New Americans, a center where refugees and immigrants can find the support services they need to guide their transition to the area.

Helen Davies, director of community relations, has worked directly with the New Hampshire branch of the YWCA to make the inception of this center possible. “The goal of the work is to create new opportunities. We are looking to break down the barriers to education,” said Davies.The center will offer English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes which will help enable students to gain Test of English as a Foreign Language certification (TOEFL).

Additionally, the center will offer programs emphasizing cultural education, interpretation of laws and utilizing personal potential. The center is also collaborating with other local youth agencies, such as INTI Soccer Academy, Safari Youth Club and Bring It, all three of which are after school programs in the Manchester community.

According to the American Immigration Council, over seventy-eight thousand New Hampshire residents were born outside the United States in 2015, and that number continues to grow each year. The Center strives to support the local, regional effort to create a safe space for immigrants and refugees.

The center itself is located inside the New Hampshire YWCA and is projected to open in early 2018. “We are in the process of a ceremonial ribbon cutting. We’ve refurbished the whole ground level of the YWCA,” said Davies.

The Center is run by SNHU staff and support will be offered by YWCA staff. SNHU students and faculty who are interested in aiding the cause are encouraged to volunteer. They can do so by contacting Davies at H.Davies@snhu.edu.

Those involved with this brand-new initiative are excited about the impact that it will make. “I would like to see us serving all new Americans in our community regardless of age. My long-term vision is to have a vibrant hub of educational opportunity,” said Davies.

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