In the Classroom: Thrive Club

Posted at 8:05 AM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 15:02:58-05

It's a pledge not taken lightly.

Becoming leaders in a foreign country, all while in high school.

"We have students from Thailand, Nepal, Latin America, Mexico and Guatemala, a few from Africa," said Juan Cangas.

Welcome to Thrive Club, where Cangas is a Thrive coach.

"Thrive is a leadership club for immigrant refugee students," he added. 

It's offered at Central, South, Bryan, Benson and at Northwest high schools.

Roughly six years ago, it started as a safe haven for these students - a space to talk about the past, while remaining hopeful of the future. 

To be a leader of your community, you have to know it.

Cangas said that's where service projects come in.

Northwest recently tackled mental illness. 

It's because a lot of the trauma that their parents have faced, their grandparents have faced some of that mental illness, he says.

"But in that culture it's not something that you can talk about - even if they're aware of," he added. 

Some students were born in refugee camps or fled their homeland because of turmoil.

At a young age, they're thirsty for healing and realize others are too.

So, they made a video highlighting mental illness among teens.

But they're not always dealing with heavy stuff. There are fun moments like during snack, playing games or participating in ice breakers.

Thrive Club at Northwest is fairly new compared to the other high school locations. 

Every Thursday, roughly 50-60 students get together and just bond, Cangas says.

The Thrive coach says the afterschool club is growing there and at Benson high, partly because refugee families are moving from east to west in Omaha. 

Today's leadership lesson is on brick layering - creating a strong foundation for their lives whether academically or personally.

The club isn't so much a physical place, but it's a community bound by the American Dream.