Refugees are people whose lives have been upended by war, conflict and natural disasters. They are resettled around the world through a global effort coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and in unusual circumstances such as the collapse of the government in Afghanistan in 2021 are evacuated then brought into the refugee resettlement system later.
Think globally, serve locally. Refugee resettlement is an issue that starts globally but requires communities to mobilize locally, to make resettlement work. This issue aligns with our mission and inspires many of our volunteers. Join us to help make refugee resettlement successful in the Washington, D.C. area and, through our ESOL Programs for Refugees, across the country.
ESOL Programs for Refugees
WCIE has been sponsoring enrollments of recently-resettled refugees in our partner English Now!’s English classes since Fall 2020. English language studies are important to refugees’ transition to life in the U.S. English Now!’s group classes are small–six students maximum in-person, four students maximum online–and taught by experienced professionals, making them an unusually personalized way to care for refugees.
We see a dramatic need for English language learning support on the part of Afghan evacuees as well as other IRC clients – and an opportunity to deliver programs targeting specific audiences that are not reached by other providers.
We have been asked by partners - and have the opportunity - to offer some very special ESOL Programs for Refugees, and we welcomed many more refugee students to classes starting in August 2022. We are now teaching students directly in online classes of four students maximum, and we’re seeking support from the community for this initiative. See here for information about WCIE’s ESOL offerings and how to support this effort.
WCIE organizes community learning events to help like-minded people and organizations understand how to resettle refugees well, and to encourage people to get involved in refugee resettlement.
Two significant Community Learning events focused on refugee resettlement in 2022:
- Our Welcoming Refugees Community Service Fair on September 17, brought together over 100 people to meet 10 organizations active in welcoming refugees in our community - and for a Sharing Stories program - conversations with refugees about their experiences in the U.S. (see adjacent photo). See here for information about that great event.
- Our Welcoming Refugees from Afghanistan & Ukraine program on May 9, featured speakers, Mikhail Basyuk, who shared a Ukrainian-Russian’s perspective–a personal story of coming to the U.S.; and Sarwar Azizi, who served as a senior official in Afghanistan’s Central Bank and Ministry of Education, and who spoke about his family’s experience as well as the needs of Afghan evacuees settling in the area and around the country. See information about this public program here.
Community Learning events continue in 2023, with an upcoming Spring 2023 Community Service Week Event. WCIE is partnering with co-sponsors including American University’s Immigration Lab to convene a public workshop on The Health & Wellness of Afghan Newcomers in May. This workshop aims to identify community resources and prepare a plan of action to overcome obstacles to well-being for the Afghan community. JOIN US for this meaningful discussion this May. See here for more information, and email us if you’d like to join us.
Support for IRC Programs
We are delighted to support the efforts of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, to resettle refugees in the Washington, D.C. area. We organize groups that participate in the IRC’s Welcome Home program to furnish apartments for newly-arrived refugee families and also work with another local organization, Homes Not Borders, to furnish apartments for IRC clients. See here for photos from a volunteer effort that furnished three apartments in October 2021. In addition, we encourage people to get involved in IRC family mentoring and other programs. Participate in one of the IRC’s monthly webinars to learn more about their programs.
Student Service Learning
Finally, we are inspired by our work with high school students, and we hope that students find inspiration in our programs as well. Youth learn about issues related to refugee resettlement in our Student Service Learning Program, Youth Facing the Global Refugee & Migration Crisis, which includes participation in a diplomacy simulation offered at the U.S. Department of State.
Contact us to learn more about our efforts to serve refugees and to get involved!