Mentorship is a personal development – a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.
Our family recently signed up to mentor a refugee family for a year. I decided to pursue working with refugees after our community was in an uproar about the refugee crisis. There is a small, but very vocal, minority in our town who are opposed to refugees. However, our community has been a resettlement location for more than twenty years with no known issues. The majority of people in our community are very welcoming and excited to have refugees in our area. I had actually gone in to the CSIRP about five months ago to talk to the director about what I could do to help, how I could volunteer, and how I can get the word out to others about this program. I was also pitching an idea I had – to start a refugee mom play date/English practice. My idea didn’t go far during that meeting, but I did learn about the mentorship program and it seemed like an incredibly great fit for my family.
The idea of the mentorship program is easy: be a friend to a refugee family that has just arrived. In fact, you are asked to be greeting the family at the airport when they arrive. From there, the expectation is that you make contact at least once each week and to develop a friendship and give assistance with navigating the area, and any new American customs. I am hoping our family considers us to be a safe place to ask questions about the US; especially things that are confusing and weird. Going forward, this is our understanding of how this program works. We meet our family late this evening. Unfortunately, because it is so late, I will be the only one meeting them at the airport (they have a translator and representative from the CSIRP meeting them there too). We are so excited to meet them! I’m bringing some winter hats, muffins, and toys to meet them. Any other good ideas for what to bring?
Here’s what I know so far: We have been matched with a husband and wife and their two children: a three year old son and a one year old daughter. They are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They speak many languages, but their primary are Swahili and English (yes!). That’s it.
My plan is to write about some of our experiences here and some of the lessons we have learned along the way. My hope is that you see how fun and rewarding it is and get involved too!