Form Relationships with Refugees
One of the greatest things about my internship with World Relief was meeting and forming relationships with refugees from all over the world. Whether it was though having tea with an Afghan family, playing with Somali children, or taking a Nepali woman to the doctor, I felt as though I was able to see the world without ever leaving Memphis. As I spent time with the refugees, I was able to hear some of their stories, visit their homes, and learn about their cultures. My experience with them opened my eyes to many different types of people and the difficult circumstances they are facing. After working with World Relief, the news on the radio seems much more relevant now that I know people who are affected by the injustices occurring around the globe.
Learn their Stories and Share Yours
As I learned about their stories and cultures, I helped refugees learn about American culture as well. Many things that seem second nature to us, such as how to buckle a seat belt or how to buy groceries, are completely new to many refugees. While these people are learning to navigate life in the United States, some funny instances of language or cultural understanding sometimes occur. With one client from Sudan, for example, I had taken him twice to the doctor to follow up on some kidney problems he had been having. Working across a language barrier, he described leaving his family in Sudan, coming to the United States, and beginning a new job. Then, I thought he told me that he had sold his kidney in Africa and had become a soldier. I was amazed and thought, “Wow, no wonder he has kidney problems!” Weeks later, when I took him to the doctor again, I asked him about these things, but he just gave me a puzzled look. It turns out that all along, he had been trying to tell me about his past surgeries and I had mistaken the word “surgery” for “sold” and “soldier!”
Rely on God
Working across such misunderstandings and some of the crazy, unexpected things that happened taught me to go with the flow and to rely on God as I go. I know that I cannot do everything to help these people and that I still make lots of mistakes when I try. I learned that God sometimes doesn’t work through the big things we do, but often through the simple. That could mean taking a family for a drive when they are bored and lonely or praying with a woman when her husband has left her pregnant, with little money, and four children to support. When chaotic or difficult things happen, it’s assuring to know that our true refuge is only found in God and in the new life He offers.
Do you know a couple of rising junior and senior high school students who would like to learn about refugees? Encourage them to apply for Nations Among Us: An Immersion Experience. See attached description. We are hosting this weekend plunge July 24th-26th. Applications are due by May 29th. Email email@example.com to request an application.