December Volunteer of the Month: Jynnah Radford
“I know how it is to restart your life. I also know how important it is to connect your old life with your new life.” Jynnah Radford describes how she has been able to empathize with the refugees New American Pathways serves and connect with her volunteer service and her internship in our Career Services department.
Jynnah’s family is from Jamaica. She spent her most of her childhood moving between two cultures, so she had to adjust to frequent transition from her culture of origin to American culture. She managed to connect her life in Jamaica to her life in America and she wants to help others do the same.
She moved back and forth between Jamaica and America for several years, and then her family moved back to Jamaica permanently a few years ago. Jynnah stayed in America for school, but she visits Jamaica several times a year. Her experience helps her relate to the process of transition for the new Americans she has served. She understands the communication challenges that may occur during her encounters with clients at the office. Jynnah speaks Jamaican Patois and reads Spanish, so she is aware of the nature of language acquisition.
Jynnah embodies the multicultural and multilingual culture at New American Pathways. She started her service in June 2015. In just six months, she has been an intern twice and served as a volunteer for multiple events. “I love my supervisors and the people.”
Jynnah often helps new Americans with editing and building their resumes. In her direct client service, she gets to sit down and be personable with clients.
“I get to hear their story and learn about their background. It surprises me how much I relate to their experiences. I sometimes get to tell them my story. It all reminds me that: We are all humans. We share the same qualities and experiences.”
It is not only Jynnah’s background that makes her service relatable and interesting. Her academic interest in migration flow, particularly the migration of refugees, urged her to gain experience with refugee resettlement. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Anthropology at Georgia State University and her specific area of study is Refugee Resettlement. When she graduates in May 2016, she plans to apply for the United Nations’ Youth Programme. She hopes to get closer to her ultimate goal of working with the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Jynnah likes to keep her academic and personal life separate, so that one life does not take on the characteristics of the other life. When she’s not at school or serving at New American Pathways, Jynnah loves playing volleyball, sewing, working out, and baking. She also enjoys going out for Spanish food and margaritas and she frequents coffee shops.
One thing that has stood out for Jynnah while serving with New American Pathways staff and the new Americans we serve, is discovering that there is more to being human than having cultural differences.
“I like the fact that refugees are starting a new life here and I want to be a part of the process.”