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  • Writer's pictureStacey Brown

Innovative student tutor, Riyah Patel

When Riyah Patel finished her freshman year, she reflected on how difficult it was navigating through classes under Covid restrictions. This made her think about how much harder it was for students who were new to the country and might not have English as their first language. She thought about her mom, Manisha, who also arrived in the United States not speaking English, but now holds two doctorates. Riyah talked to her parents, Manisha and Jay, about her desire to help other students, specifically refugees.

Together they reached out to Overcomers Refugee Services (ORS) and New Horizons. ORS identified students that would benefit from a summer tutoring program and coordinated with their parents for permission. Because the Heights branch was closed, Manisha and Jay Patel and ORS staff transported the New American students from the Heights area to the Main Branch in the library where Riyah reserved a room each day. Riyah explained, “the library was the ideal setting to foster learning and I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the library staff for accommodating our group each morning through the summer”.

Using her own books and talking with the students, Riyah created a baseline test to determine each student’s academic ability and then developed personalized tutoring plans. She worked with the students each day through the summer from 9-noon. Riyah has said that she couldn’t have done it without the support of ORS staff. ORS staff shared that the grant from Concord Public Library Foundation made it possible to support the tutoring program.

During the end of summer celebration, Riyah promised to connect with the New American students she tutored, who she now calls her friends. One of the students, Shukruni Masimago, said she felt more prepared heading into the school year after participating in the tutoring program.

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