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Syracuse school shows support for its refugee students

Ellen Abbott
Students at Dr. Weeks Elementary School in Syracuse Thursday.

At a time when refugees are mired in political debate, one Syracuse elementary school held a rally to support for its refugee population.

Students at the Dr. Weeks Elementary school on Syracuse’s northside united in a wildcat roar at a rally Thursday. But beyond school spirit, the rally showed support for the many refugees that walk the halls of the elementary school.

More than one out of every four students at the school is learning English as a second language. And most of those students are refugees. Students at the rally carried signs and promised to help each other out, even if they don’t speak the same language. Tricia Hustedt’s fourth grade social studies class took the lead.

"We try to keep politics out of it. But just letting all of our students know this is a safe place for them. It will always be a safe place and to celebrate their differences instead of pointing those things out," said Hustedt.

It’s that acceptance that’s important to Ruaa Rammahi, a nine-year old refugee from Iraq, who has found a new home she loves and where she feels safe in Syracuse.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Ruaa Rammahi, 9, is a refugee from Iraq, who now lives in Syracuse.

"I don’t want to go back to Iraq anymore, because I feel like it’s dangerous. I don’t want to,” said Rammahi.

And her message to other refugee children out there who love their new home like she does:

"Be yourself and love who you are, no matter what. Even though they tell you, you are from a different country and they hate you, don’t care, be who you are. Just show the world who you are."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.