A Call to Action from Two Teens to Other Teens in Support of Teen Refugees from Co-Founders of Teens at the Door, Chloe Berkowitz and Hugo Chiasson
We started Teens At The Door to reach out to and help teen refugees and newly arrived immigrants who come to America with their families. Our members are other High School teenagers who seek out and meet with these teen newcomers in person. And then just hang out – listen to each other’s music, go bike riding, and make it easy for the new teen members of our community to talk to their American peers and get advice about things that teenagers are interested in. These are conversations about: making new American friends, navigating a new American high school, getting after school jobs, and getting a driver’s license.
It’s the kind of help that only teenagers can do for other teenagers – like what we do with the new kids in our schools.
We started 18 months ago and worked through the International Institute of Los Angeles and formed a group of newly arrived Afghani teens being temporarily housed in Santa Clarita and the Valley and met with them every week.
It’s exciting to see how many teens around the country are contacting us to be involved in connecting with refugee teenagers and recent immigrants in their communities. This is important work, and it is becoming a national movement.
We’ve faced a lot of challenges in our journey with the Afghani teens and in growing TeensAtTheDoor. Because most of us are under 18 years old, we’ve faced additional barriers to work through in order to get involved with refugee organizations, churches, and other groups. Every group has its own protocols, legal issues, and insurance policies. It’s difficult to convince these organizations to let us work with their refugee clients and allow teenagers to work with other teenagers in person.
These roadblocks are understandable. But, our mission is very important and we have a job to do. Don’t let anything stop you from taking action right now.Any action you can take to reach out to a teen refugee in your community is important. That’s one person you are helping and that’s one life you are changing. Now!
Be creative. Come up with ideas how you can get involved. Reach out to us. And take action now; all you need is passion and the desire to make change.
For example, one way of getting around the bureaucracy that exists in many school districts is to work with teen refugees through your high school club. Right now, at Teens at the Door, three black high school students are working through their school’s Black Student Union to reach out to teen African refugees. We are also working with a teenager in Idaho who started connecting with teen refugees through her Amnesty International club at her high school.
If you are involved in a high school club – a language club, affinity group, community service club, etc. – connect with teen refugees for your next project!
You can also get involved individually. Reach out to businesses in your community and get them to help refugees. For example, if you know a company or an individual that gives driving lessons ask them to donate time to teach teen refugees how to drive and help them get their drivers licenses.
Maybe you don’t even know if there are teen refugees in your community. Research and call around to organizations to find some. And let us know how you are doing. Teens at the Door has a teenager in the St. Louis area who is writing about her journey to find a teen refugee to connect to in St. Louis. Her story is inspiring, and may give you some ideas.
Reach out to Teens at the Door, and we will meet with you over zoom to tell you how to take action with your friends, your club or even just by yourself. We are excited to help you get involved in any way that fits you and your community.
Let’s open the Golden Door to welcome and help our fellow teenagers feel at home in our cities and towns.
Chloe and Hugo – Teens at the Door
Learn more about and support Chloe Berkowitz, Hugo Chiasson, and Teens at the Door at:
www.teensatthedoor.org/ and on IG at @teensatthedoor
Hear Chloe Berkowitz and Hugo Chiasson speak about Teens at the Door on The LIFE CHANGES Show at: lifechangesnetwork.com/helping-teens-in-the-ways-they-most-need-it-ep762/