My name is Aaron Mudd, and this is my blog.
As a journalism student as Western Kentucky University, I try to tell compelling stories about people who are often ignored and unappreciated.
This is why I write about refugees living in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
If you have questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Refugee Refuge!
This blog presents my exploration into Bowling Green, Kentucky’s refugee population. This blog, which originally started out as a project for a Western Kentucky University class, has evolved into a narrative that chronicles everything I’ve learned from some incredible people I’ve met. Here you can experience stories about people who work with refugees and refugees themselves. This is a place for refugees to share their stories, perspectives, challenges and aspirations.
This is Refugee Refuge.
Ka Tay, a refugee from Myanmar, quietly works on a bible study worksheet with her friend. Ka Tay wants to get her driver’s license someday so she can be independent and help her community. Getting to English classes is difficult without a car.
At the International Grocery Store on Russellville Road, Ghazwan Nahedh rings up customers. Prior to opening the grocery store Nahedh was a physics professor in Baghdad, Iraq.
Po Khu and Caleb Benningfield sit together as Po Khu completes his worksheet. Benninfield and his wife Laura have been helping their refugee friends in many ways, but they enjoy using the Bible to inspire their English lessons. Po Khu, who is married to Ka Tay, is a Christian. They wish they could participate in church more, but language issues sometimes happen.
Wesal Muhi, owner of Noor’s Alterations on Broadway, fashions a dress for a local Muslim girl. Muslim women often have trouble finding suitable clothing. Muhi helps with that.
Po Po, pictured far right, listens intently as Caleb Benningfield gives a Bible and English lesson. Po Po wants to learn English so she can get a good job and be a successful woman.
In my last post, I discussed my background with Bowling Green refugees and why I decided to explore this topic through my blog. I want this blog to be a resource for understanding a group of people who are often ignored. I’ll consider myself successful if even one person wants to learn more by getting involved. I’ve put together something that shows the human side of refugees, who so often get lost in statistics.
The International Center, as a refugee resettlement organization, is the best place to start if you’re interested in volunteering. While the International Center welcomes anyone willing to help out, they are in need of people who can teach English to refugees adjusting to their new lives. It may sound intimidating, but you could gain a lot from the experience.
A recent Forbes article included communication skills as one of the most sought after skills employers look for. Learning to communicate with refugees, who don’t speak English as their first language and may need things explained differently, can make you a stronger communicator.
Volunteers I’ve spoken to, Caleb and Laura Benningfield, who work with refugees seem to value the experience and feel like they’ve learned so much more than they’ve taught. This is a great attitude to have because we have to be careful not to force our cultural expectations on refugees, who are individuals in their own right. The International Center also recommends this in their volunteer manual.
“The volunteer’s role is not to rescue. Refugees tend to have a high level of adaptability and resourcefulness; otherwise they would not have made it to the US.”
Ultimately, placing yourself in the position of a student learning from refugees keeps you humble and open to what you can learn.