Tutoring Migrant Children at Hotels

By Berk Tanyel, Tutoring Site Coordinator, Ramada Inn, Dorchester
Rising Senior, Emerson College

For the first three months of 2024, the Marriott Courtyard in Dorchester was home for more than a dozen migrant families. School on Wheels set up tutoring services and I was the overseer of students, volunteer tutors and hotel management.

It was there that I met Kendrick,* one of 16 registered students whose parents signed them up for homework and language help. Kendrick, who is Haitian, is in the seventh grade. It was clear he had significant trouble with basic comprehension. An English language learner, Kendrick was astute enough to eagerly reference Google Translate to finish his assignments. Every week, the SOWMA team provided progressively more difficult reading comprehension exercises. By the week of March 16, Kendrick could read and write complete sentences in English, sparingly using Google Translate.

However, during that week of March 16, many of the families sheltering at the Marriott site were relocated. After careful coordination with the Massachusetts Coalition For The Homeless, SOWMA was able to set up a new tutoring location at the Ramada Hotel in Dorchester, where many of these families were moved. Here the SOWMA team continues its weekly tutoring sessions with the same children, including Kendrick. As the school year draws to a close, Kendrick is on track to pass the seventh grade, and he is no longer daunted by English homework.

Many of the families at the Ramada Hotel are without the proper materials needed to learn. Since many of the families are new to America, it is difficult for the parents to find work, and thus the families struggle to provide food, clothes, and educational materials. School on Wheels kindly asks for your support so that we can continue working with the families at the Ramada Hotel. Together we can continue providing the children with the tools they need to thrive, to grow and to become self-sustaining members of the community for generations to come.
* not his real name