Monthly Archives: July 2012

Denis: Artvocacy

On June 21st, to celebrate World Refugee Day, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) held its Refugee Artvocacy event that showcased various works of art from refugee artists in the Seattle area. To start the event, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services held a naturalization ceremony where six former refugees took an oath and completed their process of becoming American citizens. The ceremony featured one of our IRC clients who was grateful that our citizenship tutoring program was able to help him succeed in the citizenship interview. I hope that we are able to continue these naturalization ceremonies at events in the future, not only for the clients themselves, but also for the crowds who attend these events and may not realize the significance of this moment for many refugees and immigrants in the US.

Pictures from the event can be found on the IRC Seattle’s Facebook page at

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Nicola: SOAR Pieces Conference

On June 22nd, I had the chance to present on my orientation resources for newcomer parents to the US school system at the SOAR Pieces professional development and networking conference. It was a great opportunity to collaborate, inviting community partners from the Kent School District and Jewish Family Service Refugee & Immigrant Service Center to present with me on the topic of supporting parents, as well as to gather feedback, inviting the participants to give the resources a critical look and to share what they liked and what they thought would add to the resource. At first we simply discussed how to support parents and what participants were currently doing or saw happening in their communities, before looking at how the resources could support a more streamlined approach. Overall it was a great experience to share what I have been working on and to begin to think about how it will go from being simply a resource to a tool to support community and family engagement.

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Lauren: Building Rapport

During my first two months at Somali Community Services Coalition, I have been building rapport with the youth participants in the After-School Tutoring Program that I coordinate. I have been working really hard to get to know the kids and learn about their Somali culture by asking questions, and it is starting to pay off.  They are getting used to me, and I am getting used to them, and while it is a slow process, I have made a couple of great connections. Yesterday, one participant told me that she wanted to bring me a cake on my birthday!

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Traci: Refugee Family Mentors

One of my favorite moments from this past quarter was getting a family mentor involved in writing an article for the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) webpage/newsletter. She told us the amazing story of her relationship with her family and the family’s successes since coming to the United States. When asked to write for the webpage, she jumped at the opportunity to get to tell her story and loved the idea of writing a first-hand narrative of her volunteer experiences at the IRC. She said in an email to me “I’m excited as well at the prospect of playing a small role in perhaps convincing more people to volunteer as a Family Mentor.” It has been really great to see volunteers take ownership and pride in their volunteer experiences. When they do, it inspires others to volunteer as well because the best volunteer recruiting tool is passionate volunteers who want those they know to have the same great experience.

View the article on IRC’s website:

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Denis: Citizenship Tutoring

A great story that came out of my service this quarter is that of one of my citizenship tutoring clients. This occurred at the beginning of my service before we even got the citizenship tutoring process started. One of the immigration caseworkers let me know about a Somali man who needed tutoring after failing his interview twice. I sat down with him and realized that his English skills were very limited, and he faced many challenges before the interview. Citizenship was important to him, and he also needed it to bring his wife over to America.

I sat down with him for two sessions and instructed him on how he could practice on his own and then followed up with him after two weeks. I was surprised at how quickly he improved after he got some better coaching on how to practice. It made me even prouder when I heard that he passed his citizenship test. This made me fully realize the importance of the citizenship tutoring program that I have started.

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