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Thought
Leadership
Corner

By: Kelsey Smith  

About the Author

“Our clients are energized by the gifts of a volunteer’s time and personal connection – gifts that help restore awareness of their own dignity and worth, which persecution and trauma tried to take away from them.”


 

If you have come to this page looking for an older Thought Leadership piece, please scroll down to the archives.

 

Sharing Riches through Mentorship

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but reveal to him his own. – Benjamin Disraeli

Refugeefear, persecution, flight, war-torn, trauma

OR

Refugeecourage, strength, resilience, resourcefulness, new opportunities

Headlines might say the former but I insist on the latter.

Headlines also might say help the poor, disadvantaged refugees; give them all the things they lack; teach them our ways. I say that while the spirit of generous giving is always needed (possibly now more than ever), we should focus just as much on encouraging and empowering refugees to delve into the wealth of strengths, talents, ideas, experiences and resources within them.

I’ve been on both sides of the mentoring equation and know firsthand how transformational such a connection can be. Were it not for key people who looked at a starry-eyed but insecure college grad and saw a spirit of adventure and a desire to learn life and serve abroad, I never would have had the courage to move overseas – away from my family and friends and all that was familiar. Now I get to take what I have received and pass it on to others.

I think of one of our afterschool students who, when I first met her, was unhappy, withdrawn and often self-deprecating. Gradually, as our team built rapport and trust with her and as we reminded her again and again of the wonderful qualities she possessed, a light began to dawn. When we talked with students about what they wanted to be and do when they grew up, this little girl would shrug and say “I dunno.” I told her once that I would like it if, when she grew up, she would be herself. She smiled and agreed that was what she wanted to be. When she came back next school year, I rejoiced to see her – a happy, energetic child with a newfound enthusiasm and confidence.

I have seen, over and over, that same spirit of joy in the connections our volunteer mentors and clients make, whether when teaching English through our English at Home program, talking goals and career plans in Mentors for Vocational Pathways, or applying for college and dreaming big in Young Women’s Leadership.

Our mentors insist that they are the ones who benefit from these relationships, as they celebrate the amazing milestones our clients achieve on their pathways to success. Our clients are energized by the gifts of a volunteer’s time and personal connection – gifts that help restore awareness of their own dignity and worth, which persecution and trauma tried to take away from them.

I see this process not as a volunteer making a client into someone better or giving them what they lack, but by calling on the strengths our clients carry within them, helping them to rise up and succeed.

This is what mentorship means, and this is what happens every day in our Adult Education programs. Care to join us?

Kelsey Smith is New American Pathways’ Adult Education Senior Coordinator. She joined the team in 2014 as ESL Instructor and Afterschool Class Instructor and enjoys discovering tea shops and bookstores in Atlanta with her lovely mother.

Find out more about mentoring in our Adult Education programs by attending a Volunteer Orientation. Reach out to Akheia Bowie at volunteerengagement@newamericanpathways.org.


Archived Thought Leadership Stories

 

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

Georgia and Local Community

ARTICLES | LINKS:

The Economic Benefits of Welcoming Refugees:

Refugee entrepreneurs are expanding prosperity for all Atlantans by opening new businesses that add to the tax base, employ local residents, and bring fresh ideas and products to our community.

ARTICLES | LINKS:

 

Food for Thought

“Doing Business Like a Refugee” – For countries that embrace refugee business, what follows is often a boon to the economy, and an outlet for the refugees themselves. Via NPR Planet Money

“Where are refugees to the US coming from?” : via Washington Post

“U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Migrant Children” – This summer, religious leaders across the United States lead the cause of welcoming unaccompanied migrant children to their communities. via New York Times Link

“The Children of the Drug Wars: A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis” – The ongoing issues facing Central American countries, forcing thousands of unaccompanied children are complicated. Here is one view of the crisis. via New York Times Link

What Do You Think?

An affiliate of Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries
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