Pictured above: 2019 Fall Interns: Helmi Khosyi, Sarah Kilbarger-Stumpff, and Anna Ward
In the four months I have interned at Exodus Refugee Immigration, I have been so grateful to bear witness to the lives of refugees resettling in Indianapolis. This is my first internship as a Human Services major at Ivy Tech Community college. My time at Exodus has set the bar very high and taught me so much about refugee resettlement, cultures from around the world and even the city I call home.
I knew the language barrier would make it slightly difficult to clearly communicate, but that with some shameless charades and the clever use of technology, we could make it work. All of these elements were a part of my internship.
There have been some expected parts of my internship. I knew the clients we work with would be resilient. I knew there would be some difficulties navigating different systems in the U.S., like the healthcare system. I knew the language barrier would make it slightly difficult to clearly communicate, but that with some shameless charades and the clever use of technology, we could make it work. All of these elements were a part of my internship.
There were also some unexpected parts of my internship. The clients we work with here at Exodus are funny, smart, generous and most definitely resilient. They are also human, just like you and me. They grieve and laugh and ask questions about the strange things we do here in America, like ask what a patient’s birthday is approximately one hundred times during a doctor’s appointment. They get frustrated, and so did I, when it feels they are not being understood. They miss their family members who may have not yet been able to join them in America. They are grateful and curious and eager to learn what they can about American culture and the English language.
I knew the systems we navigated would be difficult. I did not know how much the systems would reflect some of the difficult political realities of our time. I’ve witnessed many people get frustrated and impatient with providing interpretation or understanding the cultural differences of refugees. There have been miscommunications and rushed appointments. There have also been countless doctors, dentists, bus drivers and more that are kind, understanding and patient. So many Indianapolis residents have been accepting and gracious as I take a few extra seconds to show a client how to use their bus ticket. I am so proud to call Indy home in these moments.
While the language barrier has been difficult to navigate at times, I did not know the joy that could be shared on a bus ride when explaining what “tall” and “short” mean in English, laughing together over funny words or the “aha!” moment when words and meanings are connected. Such simple things that so many Americans take for granted became a source of connection and joy.
We have found ourselves here, together, moving through life and sometimes enduring difficult situations. There is much beauty to be found in coming alongside one another, despite our differences, to learn and grow together.
I want all the refugees served at Exodus to know that they belong here in America and are fully, whole-heartedly welcomed by myself and many other Indianapolis residents. Their presence here makes our country more vibrant, more compassionate and rich with culture and wisdom. I would encourage anyone who is curious about Exodus Refugee’s work to consider volunteering, interning, becoming a mentor, teaching English or simply keeping up to date on the amazing work done at Exodus. You will learn more about refugees, a joy in itself. You may also learn, to your surprise, more about all of us. We have found ourselves here, together, moving through life and sometimes enduring difficult situations. There is much beauty to be found in coming alongside one another, despite our differences, to learn and grow together. Thank you, Exodus, for allowing me to intern and giving me the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful experience.
This blog post was written by: Anna Ward, 2019 Reception and Placement Intern