Journal Entry Two
I met my refugee a mere month ago, and already she has managed to teach me countless lessons. On top of that she has proven to be more selfless and giving than any American I have ever met. I find it astonishing that a person who has been forced to live such a difficult life has been able maintain the best parts of humanity. A very provoking thought is whether or not her experiences were what made her able to be the type of person who she is. Nevertheless, it has been a difficult experience working with a refugee. There have been a few times that we have gone to the apartment and no one is there, and we have to wait. Additionally, breaking the language barrier can be very challenging, especially when trying to help. However, these challenges are what give me ideas for what to do on future visits.
The first visit to her home, my refugee was so welcoming. She met us with the absolute warmest smile I have ever seen, and despite having to wait for her to arrive I felt excited to begin. Both my partner Emily and I agree that no matter how many thing we have to do, just seeing her smile makes the time we spend with her worth every minute. After introducing herself to us, our refugee proceeded to introduce us to her younger brothers. Though they were very shy and spoke little english, I could tell that they too had excellent personalities. Once she had told us some of her history, such as where she was from and how long she had been living in the US, we asked what we could help her with. When she brought us her homework, I was relieved to see that it was something that I felt confident about helping her with. Her willingness to learn was inspiring, despite the fact that it seemed very difficult for her to complete the assignments as well as understand us. Therefore, in the future, I want to place a greater emphasis on working on her English, both written and spoken.
Our second visit, Emily, our peer mentor, and I all decided that it would be a good idea to help our refugee make a resume and begin applying for jobs. However when we got to the apartment, our refugee just seemed a little off. She was just as welcoming as before, but some of her sparkle was gone. She later told us that she had been to the hospital and was told she had pneumonia. We asked her if she would still be interested in going to the library to work out finding her a job and she didn’t hesitate to say yes. However, I felt a little discouraged when helping her to look for a job. There are not many jobs available that I thought would really fit our refugee. Though she was very willing to do any job, we were unable to find any during that visit. My goal before we leave for the summer is to find a decent and steady job that my refugee can do. I realize that this is a very difficult goal to accomplish, but I think that maybe with some extra English practice we will be able to meet it.
I knew from the start that working with a refugee would be difficult. There would be the language barrier and often times people from other countries have very different lifestyles that those in America. Even still, this has been an enjoyable experience, challenges aside. I actually am excited for Saturday mornings when I get to go and visit and really feel like I’m helping to improve another person’s life. I hope that as my time with this young woman continues, I will be able to minimize the challenges faced when working with her and help her to really adjust to life in the US.