June Volunteer of the Month: Leva Teymouri
Leva Teymouri is relentlessly positive. Earlier this summer, when she found out she had been accepted as a transfer student to Emory University’s prestigious Law School to study Human Rights Law, her mother cried with joy. But Leva basked in an achievement she knew was coming.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Leva says, with more accomplishment than pride in her voice. “I worked hard.”
It is that sense of hard work and hopefulness Leva brings to the clients she works with in the New American Pathways’ Immigration Services Department as a summer intern. Leva, who worked with us as a volunteer translator and mentor with her fellow Iranian refugees last summer, knows her story can inspire her community.
“They know my face and my story.”
Leva’s story begins in Iran, where, at 15 years old she and her mother fled to Turkey. As members of the Bahá’í faith, Leva and her mother faced severe persecution, and the gifted Leva would not be allowed to attend higher education. They spent eight years in Turkey before being accepted as refugees and coming to the United States.
Now, when not standing out as a star student, Leva works to give back to her community by volunteering. She remembers too well the feeling of culture shock upon arrival mixed with hope for the future.
“When I see them come in here, they are stressed,” she says about working with refugees in our Immigration Services Department. “They don’t know what they are doing or if they are going down the right path. I can easily relate to them and tell them everything will be fine.”
Leva doesn’t just translate for refugees. She helps guide them to their future. One woman mentioned an interest in a career in hairdressing. Leva’s mother, too, is a hairdresser. Leva and her mother began to work with the client to navigate the paperwork and licensure process to achieve her dream.
When Leva came back to New American Pathways as an intern, she saw a familiar name on the schedule. This very same client was now receiving her green card, and Leva got to break the news. Leva had the same wonderful feeling when she became a citizen.
“The United States has so many opportunities to give you. I have lived here 14 years and this is my home. I am very proud to say that I am an American citizen.”
And we’re proud to honor Leva as our June volunteer of the month.