Volunteer of the Month: Karl Widjojo
“Reflecting on my work with refugees, I’m reminded that every person has the capacity to excel in certain things. Having served with an organization that educates refugees, I know the work that we do gives them an opportunity to develop their capacity to excel,” states Karl Widjojo. After a year of service in our Bright Futures Afterschool and Summer Programs, Karl has been able to accomplish his goals of gaining experience in the Social Work field and giving back to the community. “I’ve seen the changes in the students that I’ve been teaching. It has given me meaning and value.”
A native of Indonesia, Karl came to America six years ago to start his journey as an international exchange student at Oglethorpe University. He graduated with a degree in Philosophy in May 2015. Upon graduation, he wanted to continue working with the international community, be in an international environment, get hands-on experience teaching, and exercise more authority and leadership. He jumped at an opportunity to serve with New American Pathways as an intern, assistant teaching and mentoring to support the literacy education efforts of our youth refugee programs.
“The students themselves are very curious. I indulge their curiosity. I ask and answer a lot of questions. I enjoy learning about their cultures and telling them about my culture.” Karl serves elementary students from grades one to five. The students in the program are English Language Learners and some have experienced interrupted education. Karl works with the afterschool team to provide a curriculum that enables its students to perform better academically and socially. “I see changes with our students and learning English. They learn and improve by practicing and having the proper guidance.”
Finding a way to breakthrough to students is always a challenge. Karl had his breakthrough moment by sharing something that he enjoys with the students. He brought his love of drawing into the classroom and drew a sketch of one of the students. A lot of the students then became interested in drawing. He has since then done small group drawing activities with the kids. “This was memorable for me and it made the students more interested in drawing.
Karl is passionate about music and art. He’s played guitar for the past nine years and he sings in a band. “Music and art is a media that you can use to tell a story. It conveys a message and emotion.” He likes jazz, rock and classical music. One of his dream jobs would be singing rock and jazz music. He also enjoys watching all types of movies and playing action video games. He reads Japanese and superhero comic books and is a fan of all things from the fictional superhero Batman.
In the next few months, Karl plans to move back to Indonesia. He wants a career in Social Work and he wants to remain working within an international environment. New American Pathways congratulates Karl on his year of service and honors him as our volunteer of the month. We thank him for his commitment to our goals and for the amazing work he’s done serving our refugee youth.