From a simple gesture of hospitality to a life-long friendship, there are countless ways to embrace and engage the new reality of nations coming to our doorsteps and refugee families living in our neighborhoods. Some of the of the most rewarding ways for anyone to welcome and build relationships with refugees involve passing on work experiences, life wisdom and language skills to others.
Everyone has something to share, and these ideas can help get you started.
Mentor. Use your own professional or personal experiences to guide a child, young adult or peer. Example: help with a resume, introduce a professional contact, assist with finding a licensing certification option.
Volunteer. Put skills to use while giving back to your community. Example: sign up to work with a local agency, non-profit or church that works with refugees. You can help by driving someone to their appointment, fill out their immigration forms, deliver your unneeded household items to the needy family or help with other tasks at home, such as paying bills or help children with their homework.
Teach. Impart your expertise via formal or informal education and tutoring opportunities. Example: become an ESL teacher, prepare a seminar to explain to refugees the basics of financial education in the United States or how educational system works and options available to children and adults to pursue post-secondary degrees or professional training.
Speak. Sign up for refugee advocacy speaking engagements, as well as storytelling events. Example: churches, community centers, schools and colleges welcome speakers to advocate and provide objective and non-partisan information on refugee issues.
Write. Pen an article, op-ed or even a book to engage refugee issues of our days and lessons learned. Example: start with your personal experience of welcoming and working with refugees and submit a column to your local newspaper.
Create. Pick a medium and use art to express yourself while involving refugees to contribute or contrast your perspective. Example: children, moms and adults would be excited to join you to paint, draw, sculpt, play music, dance or make crafts. Let your creative juices flow!