The Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, or PAIR, is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) non-profit that connects refugees with college students. The college students serve as mentors and help the refugees navigate their new cities and learn English. Â According toÂ PAIR Houston, the student volunteers provide college counseling, interview preparation and general encouragement.Â In return they get to learn about a new culture and forge meaningful personal connections.
PAIRÂ “works to fill some of the gapsâ€ in services available to refugees because existing services are limited in “scope and duration.” The organization tries to be culturally sensitive so it tries to limit the number of refugee groups it assists at one time.Â This year PAIR Houston is working with refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iraq, Burma, Burundi, the Republic of the Congo, Vietnam, and Eritrea.
Rice University offers work-study money to students who work with PAIR. In addition to support from Rice, PAIR works with religious, cultural and community groups to provide its services.Â PAIR Houston has only recently begun asking for donations on its website.
Given that Chicagoland has more than 20 colleges and universities, we definitely have the manpower to run a system similar to PAIR Houston. Â Chicago-area refugees could really benefit from the childcare, tutoring, and mentoring services that PAIR provides.