It’s hard to believe another week has gone by and I’m posting again before going to visit my refugee family. Last week was an interesting one. We spent so much time beforehand figuring out what to do with our family only to spend a few moments on it before improvising the rest of the visit. This change of course was well-founded since for the first time we had a competent speaker of English to translate for us. We were able find out some useful things about our family and their needs. They were able to convey a sense of gratitude to us, which was very reassuring to me since I constantly worry about how much we’re really helping them. Even through translation, their words were a boost to my confidence to continue to do more. I enjoyed last week because despite all our planning the visit unfolding organically whether we wanted it to or not.
Also, over fall break I was able to go down to Pilsen to Working Bikes. I spoke with one of its founders. It was very productive. They’ll be willing to help us when the time comes; I’ll be staying in touch with them over the coming weeks and months.
Tomorrow I’m going to go meet with a new family from Eritrea. Paige and I will still have contact with our Iraqi family, it’s just that they have a really good family support network, and we think that there are other families who we can better serve. Furthermore, the needs of the Iraqi family as of now are kind of dependent on our fundraisng (i.e. raising money so that we can hopefully buy them a CTA card or something like that). I’m a little nervous about how different this family might be from the Iraqi family. From what I’ve gained from class discussions, it seems that Iraqi families tend to be different from the majority of refugee families in that they are very open about their experiences and the reasons why they became refugees. Dr. Amick also let us know that they tend to be up front about their needs, which is great, but from what I’ve heard from other students, other families seem rather shy or like they won’t be totally up front about some of the things that they would like assistance with. I guess the only way to know what it’ll be like is to go visit the family, and hence the experiential learning part of this class. I have a feeling that Paige and I may be in for a bit of a shock. Regardless of the new challenges we may be presented with, we are very eager to work with this family.