LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Refugees who are now attending school in Louisville got a tour of their new home Thursday, a chance for Jefferson County Public Schools students to get to know the Derby city.

Newcomer Academy is a JCPS school with kids from 65 different countries who have just arrived in America as immigrants and refugees. Some of the kids have been divided into five groups of 20, who will be exploring downtown Louisville at different times.

"We will see 10 different sites in downtown Louisville," said Scott Wade, an English teacher at Newcomer. "We just called ahead and said, 'Will you welcome our students?' When we called here, they said, 'Yeah, come on.' And we called the Cathedral of the Assumption. They said yes. Humana, yes. And everybody just wants to say, 'Hi, welcome to America.'"

The warm, sunny weather Thursday may have provided some tranquility, but Wade said the lives of these kids have been far from tranquil.

"They're here because they had to leave," he said. "It's not like a vacation. It's like, leave or die or starve. A lot of the Central Americans came alone, because the family could only afford one person to come to America."

And things that some might take for granted — like a simple walk downtown — are special treats for these kids.

"They have not been downtown in any kind of way, except through a school bus window," Wade said. "This is a chance for them to come out and begin to feel welcome in the United States and feel like they're part of this community, start to feel hope that they are welcome and they can succeed in America. We want them to meet people and for people to meet them."

And the tour gets five-star reviews from the kids:

"This is my first time to see all of this in my life," one student said.

"I think it's cool because I'm so happy to visit here," another said.

"I like to come to visit the tower like this," another said.

"I've gone through the experience that these kids are going through right now: came to this country with no English knowledge at all," said Amos Izerimana, the program manager for Louisville's Office of Globalization. "For a lot of the kids, really, coming here is a game-changer."

Wade said he hopes today's tour will have an impact on these students that will stretch years into the future.

"We start with exploring Louisville, but who knows?" he said. "Maybe, in a couple of years, they will want to go to New York City. And after that, they may want to go to China. It's just the beginning of a life of exploration."

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