It takes nine hours to drive the 600 miles from Granville, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia, but this week eleven students from Denison University made the journey anyway. As part of a week-long service trip focusing on the experiences of refugees, these students are volunteering in LSG’s Refugee Services department, as well as tutoring at McClendon Elementary School in Decatur. After a busy day of working at LSG and at the school, the volunteers spend the night at SafeHouse Outreach, an urban outreach center in Atlanta, where they cook their own meals and reflect on their work.
They treat this opportunity to volunteer as a privilege, though, not a burden. “I’m fortunate to be able to speak the language of welcome,” Rachel Jean-Louis, the trip co-leader, remarked. Since some of the students did not know much about the experiences of refugees before arriving in Atlanta, they spent time learning about the process of refugee resettlement during a brief orientation with LSG and also with Refugee Family Services. According to Sara Forbes, the other leader of the trip, learning about the experience of becoming a refugee has sparked several engaging conversations among the group about the similarities and differences between immigration and refugee resettlement.
The group has also had the opportunity to interact with the individuals, families, and children who have come to the United States as refugees. On Tuesday, the volunteers drove around Clarkston with Guru Chhetri, one of LSG’s case managers, and visited families from Bhutan and other countries. On Wednesday they tutored refugee men and women during LSG’s ESL training, helping them to practice their English skills and to fill out employment history cards. And again on Friday the volunteers will sort books in Clarkston to assist LSG in preparing for the MLK Day of Service. LSG thanks them for their contributions throughout the week and wishes them a safe return home!
See more photographs of the Denison crew on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/LSofGA