KAMA is a German acronym for “classes by asylees, migrants, and persons seeking asylum” The original German is “Kurse von Asylsuchenden, MigrantInnen & Asylberechtigten.” KAMA DC is the name of the program in Washington, DC.KAMA began in Austria in 2007, and the model has since spread to several Austrian cities as well as to Germany and most recently to the United States in 2016, when a group of volunteers began meeting in the Washington, DC area. KAMA is meant to be an open-ended process that adapts to local contexts.
–Initial needs assessment
In Washington, DC KAMA organizers undertook a market needs assessment by reaching out to 65 organizations operating in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia that serve refugees, immigrants, and migrants, or are involved in education. Our preliminary research confirmed that no other organization in this community focuses on empowering migrants to teach classes to the general Washington, DC area. This outreach also facilitated the cultivation of partnerships with existing groups working on migration in the area. Three focus groups were held of potential students and teachers, and KAMA published a survey for each respective group to obtain feedback regarding the content and logistics of classes.
KAMA DC recruits teachers through outreach to partner organizations working directly with newcomers and direct outreach to migrant communities at local events and institutions and through social media through materials translated into several key languages.
–Class development and planning
Teachers select a course topic based on their own interests and receive a brief teacher orientation from KAMA DC organizers. Teachers are paired with one or two KAMA DC volunteers to provide more detailed curriculum planning and logistical support.
KAMA organizers work with local partner organizations and businesses to identify an appropriate venue, with businesses often donating space or offering at a reduced rate. Once a course has been selected, KAMA DC advertises the classes through local event boards and interest groups as well as through a community mailing list and the KAMA DC Facebook page.
Registration is recorded through Eventbrite, and KAMA DC asks all registrants to gauge their level of understanding and familiarity with a particular topic. KAMA DC uses this baseline information to assist the teachers in preparing for class.
In addition to the classes, KAMA DC aims reinforce ties between teachers and the community by having social events.