“I will be forever grateful for this experience, for it has taught me how to be patient and understanding, but most importantly, how to love unconditionally.”
Read more from Nicole Hamme ‘s reflection on her worksite placement during her Episcopal Service Corps year of service through Confluence Year .
“Since starting my position at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) almost two months ago, I have opened my mind drastically and have received a newfound appreciation for the human race.
Prior to working at CRIS, I had very little understanding of what it meant to be a refugee in the United States. Whenever I met or talked to someone from a different country, I never considered the challenges and triumphs they endured in order to get here. I’ve suddenly realized how refugees are some of the bravest individuals I have ever met.
Now that I work “behind-the-scenes” in a social service agency, I am able to see firsthand how much work is involved on all ends to support the refugees that come here. Not only have I discovered a new gratitude for our New Americans, I also have immense gratefulness for my fellow employees. Day in and day out, the CRIS staff show up ready to work and make a difference in this world in their own unique way. Whether they are teaching English classes, hosting new arrival orientations, recruiting volunteers for special events or picking up new arrivals from the airport, each staff member plays an integral role in the success of our organization.
My favorite part of working here is getting to interact with the families directly, for it is these experiences that bring me closer to God and to the human race. Over the past month, I’ve had the privilege to work with a single mother from Uganda and her two year old son. I helped them pick out furniture and delivered some essentials for the toddler, such as milk, diapers and a stroller. When I went to leave their apartment after dropping these items off, her young son gave me a hug. It was the simplest and sweetest gesture, and although he did not understand my English mumblings to him, our smiles that we shared said it all. I will be forever grateful for this experience, for it has taught me how to be patient and understanding, but most importantly, how to love unconditionally.
CAPTION: One of the most inspiring places in the CRIS building is the English language classroom, where hundreds of newly arrived refugees gather each year to learn their new language. The classroom is full of artwork and games to engage students and create an interactive environment. “