I became passionate about refugee and immigrant issues during my sophomore year at Spring Hill College after a service trip to Dajabón, a border town in the Dominican Republic. On this trip, I had the opportunity to work with Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, and from this experience, I came to realize my own ignorance of issues affecting refugees and immigrants.
My experience in the Dominican Republic motivated me to become involved with the Jesuit Refugee Action Team on campus, where I was able to learn more about refugee issues and the resettlement process. I also began volunteering as a childcare volunteer and as an ESL teacher with a nonprofit called Dwell Mobile, an organization that provides fundamental classes and community events to build relationships with resettled families in Mobile, Alabama. Through Dwell, I was challenged in understanding the hardships and realities faced by people who are forced to leave their homes and restart in a country that is not completely accepting of them.
I’m currently doing a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where I have been working at the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) as a Resettlement Case Aide in Philadelphia. My position allows me to accompany clients in several ways, such as helping them apply for programs necessary for people to be able to become self-sufficient in the United States. Through my role at NSC, I can provide direct services to my clients, while also working to advocate for more immigrant friendly policies in the U.S. What I love most about working at NSC is the opportunity I have to walk alongside people as they navigate starting a new life in the United States.
What’s one thing you have done or will do in 2020 to help refugees and other forcibly displaced people heal, learn, and determine their own futures? Need some ideas – check out our campaign page to learn more #Do1Thing.