Over the last two weeks, nearly 63,000 people, including refugees, have arrived in the United States following the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Some of the Afghan refugees, initially processed at the Dulles Expo Center, are starting to settle into life in Northern Virginia.
Fairfax County Public Schools says it has added 61 Afghan refugee students to its rolls. This includes 33 elementary school children, nine middle schoolers and 19 high schoolers
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Annandale High School has already welcomed about a half-dozen refugee students.
Meredith Hedrick is the school’s English as a second language department chair.
"We have social workers, parent liaisons, and we have counselors all here, and ready to support students that come in," Hedrick said.
Like Hedrick, many of the high school’s teachers have taught or lived overseas, which can help break down any language or cultural barriers.
She says the school will have to make adjustments, but its history of opening its doors to students escaping conflict puts it in a unique position to welcome Afghan refugees
"We want to be sure we meet their social emotional needs, that they have the food they need, the feeling of security they need, healthcare needs." Hedrick said.
Some students are already ready to help.
The Basiri sisters immigrated from Afghanistan in 2020—a move their siblings who didn't speak English struggled with.
"We saw how difficult it was living here for them, how they were feeling, and we understood it was hard for them, so we want to help others," Husna Basiri said.