Reach out to refugees: How you can volunteer and why you should

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.

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