By Amani Salahudeen
An International Rescue Committee representative came to visit the Student Government body on Oct. 15 in Forcina Hall.
According to the IRC’s website, “The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. In more than 40 countries and in 26 U.S. cities, our dedicated teams provide clean water, shelter, health care, education and empowerment support to refugees and displaced people.”
Anum Kazmi, a junior special education and sociology dual major, talked about her experience working with the IRC.
“Before I began my work at the IRC, we all received training and information on the refugee resettlement process, what it entails, what is happening in our country right now and how the laws and policies are greatly affecting these people,” she said.
Within 24 hours of a crisis, the IRC heads to the country in need and stays anywhere from six months to six years helping families transition from their homes over to the U.S.
Kazmi also discussed how significant this program was to her.
“I was able to connect with many different families and see firsthand from my interactions how extremely difficult it is to resettle in this country,” she said. “All people have the right to restart their lives and deserve to live in a safe, welcoming and all-inclusive environment.”
The Bonner Community Scholars Program and Student Government both sponsored the event, where Milagros Cruz, a representative from the IRC’s New York City office, showed students a video of a young Pakistani child who had to leave his home with his siblings due to the bombing attacks and start over in the U.S.
Cruz told students that they could help out by either donating money or their time. Many of the children needed help learning English and adjusting to the American school life. Often times, many of the students were extremely nervous about attending a different school in a new country.
“This begins with each of us and it needs to start now,” Kazmi said. “Listen, speak out, act.”
In order to be selected for the volunteer program, students have to find one that interests them and apply. There are many programs listed on the IRC website for students to choose. Cruz suggested applying to one at a time. Once they apply, they must go to an IRC orientation and, afterwards, they are interviewed by an IRC staff member and must complete a background check.
Students can receive college credit for their efforts, Cruz said that it would look good on a resume if they needed more of an incentive.
“It’s a great opportunity for you (students) to make a difference,” Cruz said. “These children often see things that no child should see and it means a lot to them if we make their transitions a little easier. We train them to help them adjust to their new lives because we don’t want any of our kids to fall behind in school.”