Monthly Archives: June 2012

Wuhye: Volunteer of the Month

I have taken over responsibility of the Volunteer of the Month program at Asian Counseling and Referral Service. Michelle, our Club Bamboo kitchen helper volunteer, was the first Volunteer of the Month I helped recognize. I felt even more connected to Michelle’s story because we volunteered together at Club Bamboo. I really enjoyed recognizing and giving the Volunteer of the Month award to Michelle. It was great seeing her happy and letting her know we appreciated her time with us.

Michelle was a volunteer that came to us last year because she was unemployed and didn’t know what to do after college. As she volunteered, she felt connected and appreciated in her community. She enjoyed her time so much that she decided to change her career path. She is now pursuing a degree in hospitality and management in Switzerland.

Tagged ,

JT: UW Pipeline Project

My favorite part of the quarter was working with the University of Washington students in the seminar I taught through the UW’s Pipeline Project. On the final day, each student presented an analysis and reflection on their quarter of serving at a community organization or school with immigrant or refugee students. It was great to hear most of them integrate portions of my previous discussions on the “refugee experience” and how they used that information to give special attention to the students. Additionally, some of the University of Washington students were from different countries, and they finally had a chance to explain the frustration and challenges of coming to a new country. I was most motivated by the few students who had changed and/or committed to careers in education, especially working with low-English students.

More info about the University of Washington’s Pipeline Project can be found on their website http://expd.washington.edu/pipeline/common/pipeline-project.html.

Tagged , , ,

John: Forming Alliances

This quarter, I was able to help organize a group of more than 13 African-based agencies into an alliance to work together to improve the capacity of their individual organizations. Currently, these organizations collaborate through a series of workshops aimed at teaching African residents of King County the importance of being involved in civic institutions (e.g. their local PTA or Neighborhood Watch groups) and participating in public activities that support community development (e.g. neighborhood clean-ups  and community forums). After one of our more recent planning meetings, an Executive Director of one of the organizations told me that this collaborative effort would never have occurred without my assistance and that my work made him want to encourage college graduates from his community to become AmeriCorps VISTA members.

Tagged , ,

Nicola: Starting Again

In May, School’s Out Washington hosted two screenings of the film Starting Again, which follows four refugee youth as they go through the initial experiences of resettlement. The film, created several years ago, powerfully captures the challenges these youth and their families face as well as their resilience. The screenings provided a powerful starting point for discussion around how better to support these youth and others like them. Sixty people, including community members, educators, service providers, and youth and families, attended the first screening at Seattle’s Rainier Beach Library. After the film, several youth from Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) stood up to tell their stories, and listening to them, it was clear that these youth are America’s leaders of tomorrow. Their strength, resilience and desire to give back to and support their communities was profound. The audience asked the students questions, and the following discussion was a great demonstration of solidarity and support for refugee youth and their families in the community.

The Kent School District Refugee Transition Center held the second screening, and, again, around sixty participants, many educators from the local community, attended. Following the film, another panel of youth, including one of the young men from the film, answered questions raised in the film about challenges and what might have helped during that initial challenging, isolating phase of transition.  Again, these young people were leaders, and the warmth and responsiveness of the educators was encouraging. The youth asked everyone to reach beyond themselves and find a way to invite refugees in, encouraging everyone to participate in cultural sharing that went beyond food and other surface areas, risking vulnerability and the possibility of making mistakes. 

View the film on School’s Out Washington’s website: http://www.schoolsoutwashington.org/1260_194/StartingAgainStoriesofRefugeeYouth.htm.

Tagged , , ,