Several studies point to benevolent health effects for older adults who volunteer in their communities. As a young adult you may ask What’s in it for me?, or more to the point, Why should I volunteer with refugees? Those are good questions to ask. As a volunteer you need to have skin in the game, and to get into volunteer work you need to know you have skin in the game.
So much of what we study in school is about humans. Why they behave the way they do: psychology, what they’ve done: history, and where they come from: geography. Unfortunately and surprisingly, these disciplines sometimes leave behind the “human element”. This probably happens because when we try to track these huge subjects we tend to put people into massive groups. Logistically it makes things easier to look at the movement of large groups rather than millions of individuals.
However, there are intense events throughout the world that are displacing millions of individuals. I’ve spoken with just a few refugees who have come to America from violent situations, and they all seem to have different stories. Helping refugees gives you a chance to speak to them about where they’ve been: geography, what they’ve done: history, and why they did it: psychology. You get to learn about people outside of a textbook or lecture, and you realize the world has a lot more depth.
So, as a college student attending Western Kentucky University, how can you get involved?
I first learned about Bowling Green’s refugee population through a service-learning course I took at WKU: cultural diversity in the U.S. This course, which can count towards your general education requirements, offered me a chance to help out a refugee family through the “$100 solution”. The WKU ALIVE Center offers the $100 solution as an incentive to get students to think “What can I do to enhance quality of life for others?”. From there, I learned about the work the International Center does with refugee resettlement. With this blog I wanted to explore my community, and I’ve met some incredible people as a result.
In the following video teachers and students discuss service learning.