“The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.”
– Nelson Mandela
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One afternoon in the height of summer 2016, I am in the middle of my normal weekly classes in Clarkston teaching Digital Literacy to a group of adult immigrants and refugees who have little-to-no computer skills when I hear a knock on the door. All of my students turn to see who is interrupting their session. I excuse myself and open the door.
It is a woman seeking to learn to use the computer to apply for a job at a grocery store. She tells me that she is a refugee from South Sudan and has been referred to me after she was asked to fill out an online job application at the store, but she couldn’t because she had never used a computer before. She says she felt so embarrassed. I ask her to register for my classes and I help her with the application the following day. When I tell the students about the situation, they are pleased.
Over the years in my journey giving back and offering myself to help others, I have focused on disadvantaged individuals and communities both locally and internationally. I find joy in helping people like this woman find answers to challenging situations.
We are all trying to be the best of ourselves regardless of where we all originated from, racially or regionally. The forces of the universe and works of mankind have greatly influenced and contributed to the current state of the world – global warming, hate and racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, closing borders to people fleeing for their lives and many other terrible things. All of this has destabilized the well-being of humankind around the globe.
Families are spread all over the world as refugees or immigrants. Displaced people may be skilled or unskilled – either way, they have the will and ability to contribute to the workforce in their new country of resettlement.
“Education is the key!” This message has been repeatedly iterated in families across the board – both locally and all over the world. For individuals specifically in countries that are greatly affected by civil wars, torture and persecution, they don’t get to ripen the fruits of their education and, as immigrants they find themselves being treated as though they are uneducated and worthless.
It’s unfortunate that the skills of these people have been underutilized, which means that the economy is not benefitting from having skilled workers in jobs where they can contribute to their specialty. Here in the U.S., companies are slowly learning to hire immigrants and refugees in more advanced positions, realizing that they, too, can be the ideal candidate for a job.
For immigrants and refugees with highly specialized skills and graduate-level credentials in fields such as engineering, medicine and teaching, New AP’s Career Services department connects them to skill-building opportunities to ensure that refugees build on their individual skills to help them realize their American dream.
I joined New AP with a desire to continue my service of helping disadvantaged or low-income individuals and families. And as the new Vocational Counselor, it’s been very rewarding to be able to help individuals seeking to further their careers in a variety of fields. This responsibility is generously shared with both New AP staff and other supporting organizations, individuals and companies hiring or mentoring the respective clients.
I invite you to join me in the effort to help Georgia’s refugees and immigrants achieve their professional goals and dreams. Open your doors to an immigrant or refugee and offer to support one to use his or her skills to better serve the country and his or her family.
July 2018: My Role in Welcoming, and Being Welcomed by Mary Martha Myette
April 2018: Why I Serve with Refugees by Minji Kim
February 2018: Where are the Refugees? by Stephanie Jackson Ali
January 2018: Sharing Riches Through Mentorship by Kelsey Smith
December 2017: Thoughts on Doing Good This Season by Andrew Leba
October/November 2017: Thoughts on Thankfulness by Paedia Mixon
September 2017: Undocumented and Unafraid: My Parents, My Heroes by Raymond Partolan
August 2017: Building PathDriver: My Path to Drive an Impact by Robin Deutsch Edwards
July 2017: Civic Engagement Regardless of Citizenship by Maria del Rosario Palacios
June 2017: Celebrating World Refugee Day by Rabbi Peter S. Berg
May 2017: Love>Fear: And It’s Good For Business by Bonnie Kallenberg
April 2017:Talking with Babies Makes Their Brains Smarter by Nitza Vega-Lahr, Ph.D.
March 2017: It’s All About Student Support by Terry Segovis
February 2017: Clarkston, Georgia: An Ever-Changing Town by Awet Eyasu
January 2017: Reclaiming Georgia’s Legacy of Love by Paedia Mixon
December 2016: Reflections on Welcoming Communities Trip to Germany by Alicia Phillip
November 2016: Thanksgiving in America by Bishop Robert Wright
October 2016: Voting: The Real American Dream by Elizabeth Poythress
August/September 2016: From the Road: das Willkommen by Paedia Mixon
July 2016: My Life In AmeriCorps by Lauren Mertens
June 2016: Reflecting On World Refugee Day
May 2016: A Gift for my Parents by Bee Nguyen
April 2016: The Ripple Effect by Breauna Hagen
March 2016: Lessons I’ve Learned Tutoring a Refugee by Ashley Hager
February 2016: For the Love of Humanity by Safia Jama
January 2016: 4D Service Learning at The Galloway School by Scotti Belfi
November and December 2015: A Case for Syrian Resettlement by Paedia Mixon
October 2015: Creating a Welcoming Atlanta Interview with Luisa Cardona
September 2015: Third-Annual Red, White and NEW Event Exceeds Fundraising and Advocacy Goals by Kelley Lugo
August 2015: Patti Garrett – August 2015 Food for Thought by Patti Garrett
July 2015: Engaging International Families in Parent Groups by Patti Ghezzi
June 2015: Reflecting on the Fourth of July by Kevin Abel
May 2015: Looking Back on Iraq by Whitney Kweskin
April 2015: All Hail Hall by Spencer Hall
March 2015: Honoring our Volunteers by Adriana Varela
February 2015: Celebrating New Americans by Charles Barnwell and Bob Glick
January 2015: What Refugees Leave Behind by Wendy Cheeks
December 2014: Welcoming Week in Atlanta by Emily Pelton