Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Keep it Real

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PITTSBURGH - It’s homework time for the Abdalla family, all gathered around the kitchen table finishing up their lessons with the help of tutor Julie Radomski.

“She's a nice student, a great tutor. She helped me a lot around my homework and stuff,” said Salat Abdalla, a sophomore at Allderdice Academy.

Julie is a senior at Pitt and co-president of the student program Keep it Real.

Every day during the school year, Julie and dozens of other Pitt students provide free in-home tutoring to nearly 100 Somali Bantu refugee families.

Many families fled Somalia during the civil war and drought of the 1990s only to live in refugee camps in Kenya.

About eight years ago, a small group made their way to the U.S. to call Pittsburgh home.

Parents wanted to make sure their children had the education and opportunities they were denied.

“It was a shock for me to come over to the U.S. because I didn't know English and whenever people talked to me I didn't know what they were saying,” said Abdalla.

Julie has worked with the Abdalla family for 2 ½ years and has been a part of their milestones...

“It's been really amazing especially to see the little kids grow up and see some of the older kids graduate high school,” she said.

But she points out the children are not the only ones learning.

“It's really a two-way street between the tutors, the Pitt students and families. A lot of learning is going on in both directions,” she said.

Julie said when Keep it Real started eight years ago, there were about 10 student tutors involved.

Now there are about 80 and it is one of the most popular student groups on campus.

To learn more about Keep it Real, log on to  the website.