Daniel is a refugee who came from Burma. He graduated from high school, but he did not plan on immediately going to college. After taking time to reflect on what he wanted his future to look like, Daniel decided that he did in fact want to go to college. Like many individuals, Daniel didn’t know what school would be the right option for him. Many of his friends told him about their own experiences, but Daniel became frustrated by the sheer number of options he faced in central Iowa alone. After weighing his options, Daniel took a brave step towards higher education by applying to several community colleges. Once accepted, he realized the application was the easy part. He then had to fill out his FAFSA application, go through both an in-person and virtual orientation, choose his class schedule, and decide whether to live on or off campus. Once again, Daniel needed help. He reached out to his fellow RefugeeRISE host site members who had gone to college. Although there were many times Daniel wanted to give up, his co-members wouldn’t let him. Eventually, the four of them were able to complete all the necessary steps to secure enrollment and financial aid.
Daniel took control of his future by reaching out for help when he needed it, and now has college lined up and ready to go. His co-members are very excited for him, and hope to stay in contact with Daniel after their term ends.
By Katie Splean
Leya is a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member turned full-time employee at the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC). Here, she's teaching Job Club, which seeks to equip our clients with the skills to succeed in the workplace. For many of them, it helps plot out the steps and goals they'll need to follow in order to return to the type of employment they once had back in their home country. Leya is a great leader at CMC, demonstrating passion and dedication to her job. She does an exemplary job of fulfilling her duties and sets a great example in the workplace.
By Joana Lwin
My experience serving as an AmeriCorps member with EMBARC Waterloo is incredible. Everyone in the office has been very helpful, friendly, and inspiring. We understand each others' needs and everyone is there to help each others out. Even though we are in multiple programs, we are all connected just like we are working on the same project. I am proud to be part of EMBARC to serve my community. For example, everyone on the Waterloo team came and support each other to help the community members filling out applications at our FOIA clinic. Everyone was willing to miss out on spending time with their families to be there and work together to do it correctly and run smoothly.
My supervisor have been great and friendly to me. We have built a strong relationship and I felt like I can talk to her about everything and every problem I have. My supervisor have not only been helping me with my work as a RefugeesRISE member, but has also helped me a lot with schools, filling out scholarship and going through college process with me. I respect her a lot and she serves as a role model for me. She reminded me of my strength when I’m down. I would say she’s not only my supervisor but also a friend, family and my counselor.
Over the past few months, Greater Des Moines Partnership's RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members Holly Clark and Bal Budathoki have been working to develop an after school curriculum encouraging sophomores and juniors at Hoover High School in Des Moines to dive deeper into the subjects of career and college preparedness. Each week, students participating in the program learn about furthering their education and career opportunities through guest speakers and hands-on activities.
Holly and Bal reached out to the RefugeeRISE members at EMBARC’s Des Moines office for assistance with a session. RefugeeRISE members Rebecca Chamberlin and Sarah Hubbard jumped at the opportunity to help their fellow host site. In a few hours, they developed a lesson plan to teach the high schoolers about their personalities through the Real Colors test.
Rebecca and Sarah helped students take their personality tests, then had them break into groups to design a poster that would represent their color’s traits. Students then presented to their peers about their color. Following that, students discussed in a large group what type of jobs would be best suited to their personality, and how their personality styles would work with other styles in the workplace.
By Rebecca Chamberlin
On December 4th, 2017, I successfully matched my first mentor pair in EMBARC’s Des Moines mentoring program. The program matches mentors with a refugee or immigrant client to help them work towards their personal and professional goals. The mentee, named Nu, is a one of
EMBARC’s parent-navigators and applied to our mentoring program because she wanted help
improving her English. Her mentor, Virginia, has had experience teaching English Language Learners classes abroad and teaches ELL classes at a church in Des Moines. The two have been
meeting almost every week since December 4 th , 2017. So far, they have logged over ten hours
together and Virginia says that both Nu’s English and confidence have greatly improved. “I love
Nu’s attitude every time we work together. She patient, positive, but also honest”, says
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
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.