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What is a Nest?

We believe that all children, regardless of economic or geographic considerations, are entitled to an education that sparks creativity, curiosity and joy.

So we created Nests, innovative and engaging education spaces where young children can learn and heal through play. Our programs nurture refugee and displaced children and families in three key ways:

Inspiring Spaces

Each Nest is outfitted with materials that inspire curiosity, invention, and creative expression. For children who have been separated from the familiarity of home, the opportunity to be autonomous, make decisions, and play freely within a safe and supportive social environment is a significant restorative experience.

All children deserve to be fully seen. Nest children are especially in need of warm, loving, consistent adults who can facilitate not only academic learning but also personal growth and healing. Nest teachers are careful observers who are highly attuned to changing needs of each child. This individualized approach makes each child feel valued.


PILAglobal’s Nests are staffed by teams of local asylum seekers, educators and international volunteers — all of whom are trained in trauma-informed practice and pedagogy. Teachers and volunteers join children in play, helping them grow emotionally, socially, and intellectually.

Responsive Teachers

Parent Engagement

Understanding that parent engagement is a key determiner of healthy child development, Nests offer support services to parents aimed at strengthening connections with their children and developing strategies to better manage daily stressors.

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The Nest Model

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Nests are rooted in the best pedagogical and research-based practices in education. They give children a place to explore, negotiate, collaborate and cultivate their passions through play and collaborative learning.

Each Nest is outfitted with open-ended learning materials that inspire curiosity, invention and creative expression. For children who have been separated from the familiarity of their home, the opportunity to be autonomous, make decisions and play freely within a safe and supportive social environment is a significant restorative experience.

The backbone of the Nest is our people. In addition to full-time local teachers, our Nests in Greece and Mexico rely on two types of volunteers, International Nesters and Local Nesters, all of whom are trained by PILAglobal in trauma-informed practices and pedagogy. 

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Local Nesters

Local Nesters are adults who live in the refugee camps and shelters that we serve. They volunteer daily in the Nests, bringing first-hand knowledge of the values, culture, language and circumstances of the children. They too are prepared for their work through a training program that introduces them to constructivist principles and trauma-informed practices.

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International Nesters

Educators, or professionals with backgrounds in related fields, volunteer in our Nests in Greece and Mexico. They bring a wealth of knowledge in child development, education, art and trauma informed-practice. All International Nesters take part in a training program to prepare them for their work at the Nest. Our Nesters hail from across the globe and enrich our Nests with their cultural and professional backgrounds.