National Writing Project

Writing With Ubuntu in Support of Refugee and Immigrant Youth

Publication: English in Texas
Date: Fall/Winter 2016

Summary: Bryan Ripley Crandall of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University describes the powerful effects of Ubuntu Academy, a program for immigrant and refugee students. In documenting successful teacher partnerships with refugee youth, Crandall illustrates the potential of collaborative writing programs. This is a powerful read for educators concerned with addressing the unique needs of immigrant and refugee students in their communities.


Ubuntu, a Nguni Bantu word, emphasizes allegiance and the importance for human relations. It translates, 'I am, because we are,' and according to Swanson (2009), it is 'borne out of the philosophy that community strength comes of community support, and that dignity and identity are achieved through mutualism, empathy, generosity and community commitment.' With few reading and writing opportunities for English language learners available in southern Connecticut beyond school, I contacted superintendents, colleagues, deans, teachers, and friends with an idea to build a summer program that would enhance reading, writing, and speaking skills. According to Miller (2016), 'our collective has infinite possibility to support and cultivate a more compassionate society,' and I believe that the generosity of many, who we are together, was an important first step to take."

About the Author

BRYAN RIPLEY CRANDALL is an assistant professor and director of the Connecticut Writing Project in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield University.

Download the Article

PDF Download "Writing With Ubuntu in Support of Refugee and Immigrant Youth"

© 2023 National Writing Project