By Janine Baeza
When a partnership fell through, all spring break plans for the Youth Navigators at EMBARC's Waterloo office were canceled last minute. We knew that it wasn’t an option to leave things in that state and tell the youth we no longer would have anything for them to do. Instead, I worked with a
couple of my team members to plan events for spring break all in one day. Beca and I organized the activities, Jarye asked for donations, and Joana spread the word to the youth.
Tuesday we volunteered at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and visited Allen Women’s Health Clinic. Many of the Youth Navigators had been to the food bank before so they were very familiar with the work done there. Together we packed over 1,000 backpack lunches that day and they still had plenty of energy to ask questions and engage at the clinic.
Wednesday we took a trip to Iowa City to visit the University of Iowa Museum of Natural Science and History. The youth loved exploring the museum’s different exhibits and learning about animals and organisms that used to live here in Iowa. Afterward we had time to explore the campus a bit and have a picnic at a nearby park before heading back to Waterloo.
Thursday was a great opportunity for the Youth Navigators to learn more about higher education when we visited Wartburg College. Most students have visited other local schools such as University of Northern Iowa or Hawkeye Community College, but there had been less opportunities for them to visit private schools and learn about that college experience. After our visit and lunch, we went to see the movie A Wrinkle in Time.
Friday was another day of service and fun. We started the day by painting at the new House of Hope location for a few hours. After eating pizza, we ended the day by going ice skating at Young Arena.
As I drove one of the Navigators home Friday afternoon, she told me that she was sad the week was over because she had so much fun. There are moments when you know you’ve made a difference and that was one for me.
Querido lector o lectora quise escribrir estas cuantas lineas, para expresar lo que sentimos todas las personas que emigramos, a este pais, por lo menos asi fue como yo me senti, cuando llegue a este pais sin ablar Ingles. Me imajino que asi se deben de sentir todas las personas que no hablan la lengua nativa de este pais.
Dear readers, I have decided to open my story in Spanish to give an example; an idea of how I felt when I came to the United States. I also want to point out how other people feel when they speak a different language. I could only imagine what was going on your head when you started reading my story in Spanish. I may have caused you some confusion, disorientation or some sort of uncomfortable feeling. And yes, that is my point, I wanted you to experience the feeling that I had when I come to the United States. This is the feeling that everybody has when they migrate to a country that speaks a different language. That was the feeling that I had, and even worse, when I first come to the United States only knowing Spanish. I thought “What?” “What is going on?” or “What are they talking about?” When somebody talked to me. If I could describe this feeling to you I would say try and speak to your pet and expect them to give a response.
I remember how embarrassing my first months in the United States were. I remember how much I hated this place! I wanted to go back to Mexico, where everybody spoke the same language, where they don’t make assumptions of your race or laugh of your pronunciation, where the language that you speak is the same one that you read and write, where they don’t discriminate, where the skin, hair, and eye color didn’t matter, where you smell Mexican food and hear Mexican music everywhere, where the weather is not crazy, where it’s warm all year round, where the people are friendly, where we celebrate our traditions in our own way, where I had my own house and friends, where I didn’t have to hide or run away.
Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.
By Araceli Vazquez- Ramirez
By Emmanuel G.
After two students completed the first session of the Job Readiness Class at Catholic Charities, we tried to find them jobs and suggested they apply at Walmart. One of our team members helped them with their job applications. After being accepted for the job, I went to help them with orientation by interpreting in their language and showing them how to do the task their jobs required. After a few weeks, I talked to the managers to ask how they were doing. The managers said that they were doing very well. Our students fit in well at Walmart and they like to work there.
Khoi wanted to pursue a career in business and finance. While a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member at the Bridge of Storm Lake, he was able to partake in training with different aspects of finance. His training involved topics such as learning the different aspects of bookkeeping, accounts-payable, payroll and Quickbooks.
About the Blog
The service members of RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps have compiled stories of success during their membership. This blog was created with the intent of sharing these valuable stories with the public.