On a rainy, Pacific Northwest Thursday afternoon 15 students, CRB volunteer Janet, partners from World Relief Kent, and I visited the Green River Community College (GRCC) campus in Auburn, WA. When we arrived at Green River our students were immediately struck by the verdant vegetation enveloping the campus. We traversed small gray pathways in a sea of green until we reached the Zgolinski Welcome Center.
As we entered the building we were greeted by one of GRCC’s Career Counselors, Josh Staffieri. Josh arranged a room in the Welcome Center for us to sit and listen to three encouraging and passionate members of the GRCC “family,” as they put it. AmeriCorps VISTA Marwa Almusawi, took the time to explain her background, her struggles, as well as her triumphs. She also spoke to our students in English and Arabic. Students Gabrel, from the Phillipines and Hani, from Somalia, also presented their stories to the students gathered. They spoke to students about the challenges of coming to a new country, learning a new language, and achieving their academic goals.
A highlight of the presentation occurred during Hani speech. She presented in English while a Karen student from Burma translated into the Karen language, and shortly thereafter, Marwa would translate into Arabic. It was truly powerful to see and hear the diversity of the room; people from all over the world in pursuit of better education… it was a magical thing!
After our youth asked the GRCC students questions about college life, we toured the campus. Students were able to see the facilities, like the Lindbloom Student Center, and classrooms. We visited one particular classroom in which GRCC students were running air traffic control simulations in a state-of-the-art control room. It was fantastic!
CRB would like to thank Josh Staffieri, who was an integral part of organizing the program and we are very appreciative of his assistance. We would also like to thank the three presenters, Marwa, Gabrel, and Hani for sharing wise words of inspiration. Last but certainly not least, thank you to volunteer tutor Janet and World Relief intern Chelsey for helping us keep our students safe on the trip.