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Nurturing Sudanese refugee youth as leaders through participation in church youth groups

Wilkinson, Jane and Santoro, Ninetta (2014) Nurturing Sudanese refugee youth as leaders through participation in church youth groups. In: Australian Association for Educational Research, 2014-11-30 - 2014-12-04.

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In this paper, we examine the key role that church - and a church youth group - played in fostering the social capital and leadership potential of a group of young Sudanese refugees situated in regional New South Wales, Australia. The paper draws on a larger 18 month study which explored the role which out-of-school networks and practices may have played in generating the resources to support and facilitate Sudanese refugee students' formal educational achievements. Case studies of eight young Sudanese people attending secondary school in two regional towns were conducted. The studies focussed on young people who had been identified as educationally successful in their respective communities. Success was defined in broad terms to include family and community engagement and responsibility, as well as positive attitudes to learning, knowing how to learn, and where to go to gain assistance to learn. The study utilised photo-voice, focus groups with young Sudanese students attending secondary school, interviews with their parents/caregivers, observations of extracurricular activities in which the young people were participating, and interviews with key personnel whom the young people had nominated as supportive in building their sense of belonging in the broader Australian community and supporting their formal educational achievement. Eight Sudanese youth in two regional communities were nominated by key community groups and educational personnel working with refugee young people.