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Tag: Client story

IINE Celebrates World Refugee Day 2024

Marked each year on June 20, World Refugee Day (WRD) is an international observance honoring the strength, courage, and cultural contributions of those who have been forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict and persecution. It was officially launched as a global celebration by the United Nations in 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. 

For IINE, World Refugee Day is an opportunity to recognize the achievements of the refugees we serve and thank those who support them. This year we celebrated all week long with multiple events across our three offices in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire.  

Manchester marks client achievements with a ceremony, food, and prizes

Blog Collage - WRD Manchester

Outside of our offices at Brookside Church, 94 students in our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program were presented with certificates recognizing their total learning hours for the year, and our instructors recognized their students with special awards for perseverance, engagement, mentorship, and other distinctions. Certificates were also presented to participants in the Connections literacy and book distribution program by our partner, NH Humanities; to our community volunteers for their tutoring support; and to the recent graduates of our LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant) for Success program by a representative from Manchester Community College. Meanwhile, our clients’ children got some quality play time in an inflatable “bouncy castle.” Families got to spin a prize wheel put together by our AmeriCorps volunteers to win transportation passes and gift cards, and a raffle resulted in two children of clients leaving with their own bicycles! 

Lowell community gathers for a bike ride, picnic, and special honoree induction 

34 youth clients and accompanying staff marked the occasion with a WRD bike ride from Bruce Freeman Trail to Heart Pond, where they stopped to enjoy a picnic and take pictures. Bicycles were provided for those who needed them by our community partner, The Bike Connector, a non-profit community bike shop operated by new IINE Board Member Wade Rubenstein, which has provided free bikes, cycling instruction, and recently, employment, to our current and former clients. 

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More than 50 clients and 20 staff gathered for a festive art project: coloring in the flags of their home countries. They also played games, and enjoyed pizza, fruit, and drinks. Staff shared the official theme of this year’s World Refugee Day in multiple languages: “Our Home”—from the places we gather to share meals to our collective home, planet earth: everyone is invited to celebrate what Our Home means to them. Home can be a place of refuge, a feeling, or a state of mind.  

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Community members gathered at Middlesex Community College’s Cowan Center to celebrate our clients and honor those who have made tremendous efforts to welcome them to Greater Lowell. We inducted five new members into the Lowell 100, a group of leaders who have made significant contributions to the city’s immigrant communities: 

  • Majid Abdulhussien and Suad Mansour (top left), former IINE clients who serve as drivers and interpreters to newly arriving refugees. Abudulhussien and Mansour are famous in our Lowell office for answering the call at a moment’s notice to meet refugees at the airport, welcome them to the U.S., and bring them to the furnished apartments secured by our housing coordinators—their first homes in the U.S. “I want people to help me, so now it’s my turn to help the people that need it,” said Mansour. “For me, I enjoy it … You have to see it on their faces when you tell them you are coming to help and that everybody knows they are coming.”
  • Sidney L. Liang (top right), Senior Director of Metta Health Center, Lowell Community Health Center with whom IINE shares an office building and collaborates closely. Liang is a former refugee who fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Praising the many other former refugees who now provide services to new arrivals at both Metta and IINE, Liang said, “They lived through similar experiences, but they have bandaged these wounds. They have wrapped their wounds and now they are ready to give back.”
  • Wade Rubenstein (bottom left), President and Founder of the Bike Connector, new member of IINE’s Board of Directors, and the son of former refugees from Ukraine. Wade was inducted by Ungaye Izaki, a former IINE client whose story of retrieving a bicycle from a canal in order to get to his new job inspired Wade to found the Bike Connector where Izaki now also works. “Ungaye was the first bike I awarded to someone here in Lowell,” Rubinstein said. “Last week we just gave away our 5,000th bike.” 
  • Kelle Doyle, Area Manager of the WeStaff employment agency that has connected thousands of IINE clients with their first employment opportunities in the U.S. Doyle has said of her experience with IINE clients, “they end up being the best employees…The nice thing is, we’re a steppingstone for them to grow their language skills, make some money, establish themselves, get licenses, and just start a life here.” 

Following the moving induction ceremony, eventgoers enjoyed food from around the world as well as a coffee tasting courtesy of Starbucks, who generously sponsored the event and our Manchester celebration. Thank you, Starbucks, for your ongoing support!

City representatives join Boston ESOL graduation to speak with immigrants and IINE staff

On June 20 in Boston, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement Director Monique Nguyen joined a celebration of our ESOL graduates to read a proclamation from Mayor Wu declaring June 20th World Refugee Day in Boston. Boston City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune and City Council members Benjamin Weber and Edward Flynn attended to share their support for immigrant learners. Louijeune addressed students in English and Haitian Creole, underscoring the importance of education and playing an active role in supporting their children’s learning. More than 200 students, family members, and staff attended the celebration. 

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Throughout the week and across our sites, IINE’s community came together with joy and pride, and left feeling truly inspired by the stories and achievements of the people we serve and work alongside, who have persevered through incredible hardships, and are now equally driven to succeed and give back. 

1954–1964 – “Refugee Relief Over Quotas”

Welcome to the fifth installment of our series “100 Years of Welcome: Commemorating IINE’s Boston Centennial.” The previous installment, “1944-1953 – A Home for the Displaced,” described how the International Institute of Boston (IIB) worked to resettle and integrate more than 10,000 people displaced by the Second World War and served hundreds of refugees fleeing communist dictatorships. Further into the Cold War period, IIB successfully transitioned into an agency focused on the needs of refugees while also making significant strides in the fight against the biased immigration policy. During this period, IIB lobbied against U.S. immigration policy based on the discriminatory “quota system” of setting caps on the number of immigrants admitted from designated countries.

Help for Hungarian Uprising

IIB responded quickly in the last months of 1956 when a new crisis erupted in a communist enclave of Eastern Europe just as the Refuge Relief Act of 1953 was set to expire. In October, thousands of Hungarians took to the streets demanding freedom from Soviet control. The Soviets tried appeasing them by appointing a liberal new premier, but by November, Imry Nagi had proven too liberal. Instead of a statesman, the Soviets now sent army tanks into Budapest. Twenty-five hundred Hungarians died in street skirmishes and 200,000 more fled as refugees.  

Back in Boston, the International Institute raced to coordinate with the federal government to admit as many Hungarian refugees as possible before the Refugee Relief Act was to expire at the end of December. Some were let in by the end of the year, but ultimately more were admitted afterward under the nation’s first use of “humanitarian parole,” which allowed threatened immigrants to enter the U.S. during emergency circumstances, but with limited rights and protections.  In 1958, Congress passed a law allowing Hungarian parolees to become lawful permanent residents of the United States, setting an important precedent. 

The International Institute successfully settled hundreds of Hungarian refugees in Boston and created a Hungarian social club to help them support one another. Within a few years, a Hungarian immigrant named Gaspar Jako would become the first Executive Secretary of the International Institute of Boston to be born outside of the U.S. 

Armenians Advocate

Another victory over the quota system came in 1959 when the National Council for Immigration and Resettlement of Armenians (NCIRA), founded at the International Institute, testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that despite the continued persecution of Armenians abroad, including many whose displacement had led them to Soviet countries, a backlog in visa processing was preventing them from joining their families and fellow refugees in the U.S. 

Persecuted Armenians had been settling in Boston since the late 1890s, and had significant settlements in Boston’s South End neighborhood, the neighboring city of Cambridge, the North Shore cities of Lynn and Chelsea, and most significantly, in the Greater Boston city of Watertown, which by the 1930s was 10% Armenian. IIB served this population from its earliest days, hiring “Nationality Workers” for the Armenian community in its founding year of 1924.

The NCIRA’s testimony would help lead the passage of Public Law 86/363, an amendment to the McCarran-Walter Act, which exempted many foreign-born spouses and children of immigrants from all over the world who had achieved U.S. citizenship from their country quotas for the purpose of family reunification. 

A Letter to President Kennedy

In 1960, Boston native John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a second-generation American with deep roots in Ireland, ran for president on a staunchly pro-immigrant platform. “Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible,” he said on the campaign trail. “With such a policy, we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.” 

In 1961, the International Institute of Boston seized the opportunity presented by Kennedy’s election to continue its fight against the quota system by sending a letter to the newly minted president urging him to act on his values and “take the lead in developing a non-discriminatory, humanitarian immigration system…” 

The letter called for “replacing the present national origins quota system by a more equitable and non-discriminatory method of selection…greater emphasis in legislation on family reunion,” and a “Permanent provision in the basic immigration law for…refugees from any refugee area, and to persons with special skills needed by our economy.”

Later that year, President Kennedy signed an amendment to the McCarran–Walter act addressing its use of country quotas. The amendment reformed the quota system by eliminating some of its explicitly race-based criteria, reallocating unused visas if quotas had not been met, giving visa priority to immigrants’ relatives to promote family reunification and to refugees, and expanding the categories of immigrants who were not subject to quotas.

Upon signing the bill, President Kennedy proudly stated, “We have removed a long-standing injustice in the way that immigration quotas are allocated, based on a formula that was obsolete and unfair.”

Later in 1961, when communist revolution flared in nearby Cuba, President Kennedy would again have the opportunity to prove his commitment to persecuted immigrants. Through his Cuban Refugee program, as well as the use of humanitarian parole, his administration would admit more than 200,000 people fleeing Cuba to the U.S. Working with the Massachusetts Council of Churches Refugee Committee and National Catholic Welfare Council, the International Institute of Boston helped thousands of these Cuban immigrants to resettle in Boston.

Kennedy continued to push for greater immigration reforms exactly in line with the requests from the International Institute in his home city. In a national address in 1963, he told his fellow citizens, “The national origins quota system has no place in the American way of life. It is an anachronism that no longer reflects the realities of our society or the values we cherish. I urge the Congress to pass legislation that will establish a more equitable system, one that prioritizes family reunification and the skills and talents of prospective immigrants.”

Preparing For a New Era
In 1964, IIB secured a new home. The growing organization purchased its own building at 287 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and raised more than $100,000 from its Board of Directors and membership to outfit the space for case work, classes, and cultural events. Staff moved in and began operations just in time—one year before a landmark immigration reform bill that would change immigration policy—and IINE’s work—forever.

Today, just over a mile away in our offices on Boylston Street, the International Institute continues its focus on welcoming and resettling refugees, now serving more than 20,000 immigrants a year from 75 destabilized countries worldwide. Building on the work of the last 100 years, IINE and its supporters also continue the tradition of fierce advocacy for Kennedy’s “equitable and non-discriminatory” system of immigration with more pathways to entrance, permeance, and security for today’s seekers of safety, freedom, and a better future.

During our centennial year, we celebrate 100 years of life-changing support to refugees and immigrants in Greater Boston and prepare for our second century of service. Learn more here: IINE Boston Centennial.

Meet Our Interns

Every spring, summer, and fall, we welcome a new slate of talented and passionate interns to our team! In this blog post, hear from three of our recent interns from across the organization.

Mika Margalit, Grants Intern, Boston Office | Second Year Student, Tufts University

What are you studying at Tufts and what drew you to those studies?
I am studying International Relations with a focus on Security and doing a minor in History with a focus on Migration. I’ve always been interested in how conflicts happened and peoples’ stories, and that grew into foreign policy, immigration, and history.

What led you to an internship at IINE?
I have done past work with resettlement organizations, and I know I want to be involved in providing tangible services to immigrants and refugees. At IINE, I can see people who are actively raising the money to house people, or driving to the airport to pick people up, or helping them with their legal cases. Being able to intern here is just really special because I’m able to connect with the populations being served.

What did you do as an IINE intern and how did it help prepare you for future work?
I worked on the Grants and Contracts team. I helped find perspective grant makers for the organization. That included looking at which of our programs are most in need of funding and researching which foundations have interest in those funding opportunities.

I also did research for the grant proposals themselves. We’d have to find a way to convey why our organization is important so I would gather information about immigrants in the workforce, for example. I loved this work.

I think it’s prepared me in a lot of different ways. Being able to be in a professional setting, learn about the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to fund a nonprofit, develop my research skills, and work in a collaborative environment—it was all really special.

What was the work environment like at IINE?
I had a really amazing time. I ended up being able to connect with so many staff, and not just on the Grants team, but also in Donations, ESOL, and more (and realized that a lot were only a couple years older than me!). Being able to learn about the different types of opportunities out there was a really valuable part of the internship experience. I’m really sad to be leaving, I’m going to miss it a lot.

Would you recommend this internship to other students?
I would recommend this internship to anyone who is passionate about refugee advocacy. Being able to see what the work looks like on the ground to integrate refugees into the New England area was so valuable in understanding both the impact an individual can have and challenges of the work.

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Aeden Kamadolli, Youth Intern, Lowell Office | First Year Student, Columbia University

Aeden Kamadolli
Aeden Kamadolli (center) on a field trip to the New England Quilt Museum with our refugee youth clients

What are you studying at Columbia and what drew you to those studies?
I am a Human Rights major. I was drawn to human rights as a field of study because I think that the world we’re living in currently is one where human rights are not actually human rights because they are tenuous/not guaranteed for far too many people. I think that learning about human rights in an academic setting will help inform my work in solidarity with communities who are currently being deprived of certain rights.

What led you to an internship at IINE?
I was interested in working with an organization that supported recently arrived people in the Greater Boston community (since I was back in Massachusetts over the summer), and my Googling led me to IINE’s internship program. I was particularly drawn to IINE because of the Youth program, as I had previous experience working with youth and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn new skills while doing work I was passionate about.

What did you do as an IINE intern and how did it help prepare you for future work?

I feel like I did so many different things over the summer. The Youth team is a small team, but they do so much to support youth clients, it’s actually incredible! I spent a lot of time doing text outreach to clients, and I also helped make and send out the weekly Youth program newsletter. I helped plan, set-up, clean-up, and generally facilitate different types of programming (workshops, field trips, tutoring, etc.). Over the summer, many of our youth clients were interested in finding jobs, so one of the other things that I did once I established rapport with some of them was help them make resumes. I also had the opportunity to shadow a few intakes that my supervisor was conducting. Finally, I spent a decent chunk of time documenting client interactions.

I learned how to write case notes and got a lot of practice navigating [a client database]. I also really deepened my familiarity with Canva because I had to do a lot of graphic design for flyers, the monthly event calendar, and the newsletter. I generally learned a lot about the city of Lowell and the different services and resources available to refugee and asylee families—and I even picked up a little bit of the Levantine dialect of Arabic.

What was the work environment like at IINE?
First and foremost, my supervisor was an incredible resource. I felt like I had the perfect amount of freedom— I felt very supported, but at the same time, I had a lot of agency when it came to the work that I was completing. I had the opportunity to work with some other Community Services staff, and in addition to making me feel very welcome, they were very approachable, and I felt comfortable asking them questions.

Did you have a greatest success story as an intern?
I don’t know that I can isolate a single greatest success, but I’m really proud of my Arts Afternoons initiative. I came up with the idea to have an afternoon once a week in the Youth space that was entirely dedicated to a specific type of arts and craft, and together with my supervisor, we planned out a unique art activity for almost every Monday afternoon over the summer. I think my favorite Arts Afternoon was a two-part one, where youth clients painted small terracotta pots one week, and then planted herbs and spider plants in their pots the next week. Some of the youth clients brought their younger siblings to the activity, and we had really great turnout both weeks— and I had so much fun sharing my love of plants with everyone! Afterwards, some of the youth chose to keep their plants in the windows in the office and would come in regularly to check in on and water them. I think it really helped the space feel cozier.

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Innocent Ndagijimana, Community Services and School Impact Intern, Manchester, NH Office | Senior, University of New Hampshire

Innocent Ndagijimana
Innocent (right) at IINE Manchester’s annual World Refugee Day Celebration

When you interned at IINE, what were you studying at UNH and what drew you to those studies?
When I was interning, I was a senior at UNH, majoring in Business Administration. I chose to major in Business Administration because I am interested in becoming an entrepreneur. I plan on starting a nonprofit organization at some point in the future. The main goal will be to educate an underserved community such as immigrants.

What led you to an internship at IINE?
I knew about IINE because I was their client when I moved to the U.S. from Congo in 2014. I learned about an internship from my school’s career fair.

What did you do as an IINE intern and how did it help prepare you for future work?
My responsibilities included assisting the School Impact Coordinator with the process of registering kids (pre-K-12) in schools. I also helped adults by providing community services support. My internship helped me to prepare for my [current position] as an AmeriCorps volunteer [at IINE] because throughout my internship, I familiarized myself with the programs provided by IINE. I also built relationships with several clients whom I currently work with as a volunteer.

Did you have a favorite success story as intern?
My greatest success is that I improved my understanding of how to better serve immigrants. I learned about several programs that refugees need to succeed in their new country. I knew about these programs from a client perspective; it was very fulfilling to learn about the resettlement process from a server point of view.

Would you recommend this internship to other students?
I would definitely recommend this internship, especially for someone who is interested in helping people, and learning about different cultures around the world.

Love what you do. Every step of the way. Explore internship opportunities at IINE to gain hands-on experience supporting refugees and immigrants in New England. 

“I Never Felt Alone”: Maydelyn, a Refugee and Single Mom from Guatemala, Finds Community and a New Start in Massachusetts

Arriving full of hope

Maydelyn with her sons, 11-year-old Xavier and 9-year-old Pablo, who came to the U.S. as refugees from Guatemala

After making an impossible choice and a difficult journey, Maydelyn, a former schoolteacher, refugee from Guatemala, and single mother, arrived at Boston Logan International Airport with her 11-year-old son, Xavier, and her nine-year-old son, Pablo last August. All three were eager for a fresh start.  

Their new home would be in Quincy, Massachusetts. IINE’s Housing Coordinators had found and furnished an apartment for the family in the Boston suburb, in an area with a large Spanish-speaking community. Once Maydelyn and her sons moved in, IINE Case Managers quickly got to work on enrolling the boys in school, helping the family apply for public benefits, and scheduling medical appointments. By September, Xavier and Pablo told their Case Managers that they were enjoying their classes and had already made friends with other students with Guatemalan backgrounds. 

Pursuing her dream

Madelyn was extremely eager to learn English and join the workforce in her new community. She told her IINE Employment Specialist that her goals were to attain English fluency, become a Spanish language teacher, and to be a homeowner. Understanding the path would be long, she quickly took a job with a local housekeeping agency. Within months, and with IINE’s help, Maydelyn was hired as a housekeeper at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. While she had enrolled in ESOL classes, her work schedule and commute made it challenging to attend them. IINE connected her with a volunteer to tutor her one-on-one. Madelyn remembers feeling truly blessed to be on her way towards her goals. 
 
“Despite starting a life from scratch without knowing the language and without knowing where to start, I never felt alone. My Case Manager not only helped me resolve each and every one of the important procedures but also made me feel welcome because of the affection with which he always treated me. I felt supported at all times. Without IINE the adaptation would have been too difficult.”

An incomparable friendship

Maydelyn and her sons got a special level of support from the mother-daughter team of Anna and Rosie Glastra. Anna had begun volunteering at IINE the April before Maydelyn arrived. An immigrant herself, Anna was eager to help other new arrivals find their way in a new country – and put her Spanish language skills to good use!  

Initially, Anna signed up to provide transportation support, driving IINE clients to appointments and classes and helping them to run errands. When Maydelyn and her boys arrived, Anna became one of IINE’s first “Community Mentors.”  

Xavier and Pablo in the Halloween spirit

Similar to IINE’s Resettle Together volunteer teams, Community Mentors get matched with refugee families or individuals in their early stage of resettlement and become their guides, supporters, and—as was certainly the case with Anna and Maydelyn— their first friends in the U.S. 

Anna and her daughter Rosie began working with Maydelyn when she arrived in August. It was Anna who let IINE know that she would need a workaround for ESOL instruction, leading to her getting a tutor. By the fall, Anna was helping Xavier and Pablo get ready for a very exciting first. She wrote to IINE’s Volunteer Coordinator, “Last Wednesday, Maydelyn and I spent a great afternoon with the boys, visiting and enjoying the Halloween store to get an outfit. They were so excited to be able to celebrate Halloween for the first time ever. Their school organizes a Halloween party tomorrow afternoon, and after that they will go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood with Maydelyn. The remaining part of the afternoon last week, we played mini golf and got a bite to eat. It was a lovely afternoon.” 

In November it was time for another exciting New England tradition. Anna shared, “I took them apple picking, which was a great success. The whole family enjoyed it so much. I believe the boys each ate at least 6 apples while picking :). They climbed on every ladder to get the highest available apple out of the tree and went home with two full bags of apples and a pumpkin.” 

Volunteers Anna (left) and Rosie (center) with Maydelyn and her sons, enjoying an afternoon outing to the local apple orchard

Maydelyn was proud to be able to return the favor later in the month, inviting Anna and Rosie to her apartment in Quincy for a birthday party. Anna wrote, “She cooked delicious Guatemalan dishes for us and baked a tres leches cake (her mom’s recipe). She was so happy to share her lovely apartment with guests for the first time in the US.” 

Of her friendship with Anna, Maydelyn says, “I am grateful for having the connection between Anna and us since she and her family have given my children and me unforgettable moments and most importantly, incomparable friendship and affection.” 

A promising future

Almost a year later, secure in her home and work, and progressing with her English skills, Maydelyn is self-sufficient. Anna checked in with her in the spring and reported, Xavier and Pablo are doing really well in school. They both have quite some friends and are both involved in sports: basketball and soccer. They made amazing progress with their English. Maydelyn mentioned to me that she recently had a parent-teacher conference in which the teacher said that both boys are excellent students, which made her very happy and proud. 
 
While there was nothing easy about leaving her country behind and journeying to a new land as a single mother, thanks to her bravery and drive, her family’s positivity, the support of IINE, and the friendship of Anna and Rosie, Maydelyn and her sons are building a better, hope-filled life in New England.

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Volunteers are essential to the work we do to welcome and resettle newcomers to Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Click to explore our volunteer opportunities.

College Students Learn Refugee Resettlement by Lending Helping Hands

Northeastern RT Group

Colleges and universities define New England’s culture, bringing innovation and meaningful cultural exchange as they draw educators, researchers, and students from all over the world. For IINE, colleges and universities are important partners; professors and administrators collaborate on our vocational skills training programs and help IINE clients set educational goals. Many local students serve as interns, learning about the work behind the scenes while providing much-needed support to IINE’s staff. 

Now IINE is forging a new type of partnership with local colleges and universities: collaborating directly with students in classes on migration, international affairs, and international business to provide them with hands-on service-learning opportunities. The benefits are threefold: 

  • Refugee families get the support of driven young volunteers who are exploring their new city alongside them.  
  • IINE gets to help shape the next generation of welcomers and supporters. 
  • Participating students get to move beyond research to gain experience and make a tangible difference in the lives of refugees who need support in this pivotal stage.  

“The college students who come here to learn and the refugees who come here for a fresh start all renew and enrich our communities,” says IINE Volunteer and Community Sponsorship Coordinator Kate Waidler. “There’s much to be gained from bringing them together. It’s important for students who are really trying to understand international relations to meet some of the actual people they’re talking about when they’re discussing humanitarianism and victims of war, and it’s great for refugees to meet some people beyond case specialists— young people with different dreams and aspirations who are equally welcoming and want to learn how to help.”  

Kate recently developed partnerships with two universities in Boston while attending monthly meetings of the Supporting Higher Education in Refugee Resettlement project (SHERR), a service-learning-focused sub-group of a national network, and is proud that IINE is one of the first groups to move from theory to practice. “There was a sense from the group of ‘Wow! You’re already doing this!’ I realized that we’re pioneers.” 

Exchanging knowledge and skills with students at Northeastern

In the spring of 2024, IINE completed an inaugural partnership at Northeastern University (NU) working with students in its “Globalization and International Affairs” and “Cultural Aspects of International Business classes. The collaboration included NU classroom visits from IINE staff who trained students in aspects of refugee resettlement. Refugees and immigrants were also invited into the classrooms to participate in valuable discussions about their experiences finding work in a new country. Students engaged in multiple aspects of fieldwork, some traveling to IINE’s Boston office to tutor or teach while others provided hands-on assistance preparing to welcome new refugee arrivals.

Digital Literacy 

One group of NU students was tasked with giving refugees and immigrants with little technology experience a key to accessing IINE classes and services, navigating their communities, and succeeding in the workplace: basic digital literacy.  

Students designed and taught their own workshop to help IINE clients operate smartphones and Chromebooks to access and use needed programs and applications, including IINE’s online ESOL instruction platforms; and to write, edit, and search. Three sessions of the workshop were held for clients from Somalia, Cameroon, Haiti, Central African Republic, Guatemala, South Sudan, and Afghanistan, with interpretation provided in several languages. The project was designed and spearheaded by IINE AmeriCorps Volunteer Rosemary Barnett-Young. 

NU Student quote

“It was something I had both clients and staff express a need for,” says Rosemary, “so I was eager to get the classes up and running. In my own work with clients, I had some challenges with virtually helping explain how to join meetings online, etc. The Northeastern students were incredibly important in offering these classes in person. Clients said it was a great class, and it helped them learn many new things about computers. Many have reached out and expressed interest in follow-up computer classes.” 

Huskies Supporting Families: A Northeastern Student on Welcoming New Arrivals  

Two groups of Northeastern students took on the important task of preparing to welcome newly arriving refugees and making their first day in their new home a success, mirroring the work of IINE’s Resettle Together community sponsorship program. After completing initial training with IINE staff and online training with the Refugee Welcome Collective, a national organization supporting community sponsorship, each group was assigned to a family of incoming refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a few weeks to prepare. Their main tasks were to make sure their families’ first apartment in the U.S. would be fully hospitable and stocked with groceries, greet their families at Logan International Airport, make sure they got safely to their new home, and provide them with a warm, culturally appropriate first meal. 

Thomas Brulay, a second-year Northeastern student studying International Affairs and International Business was one of the students assigned to the Koufoukikas, a group of five siblings and an adult son. His group’s first task was to raise enough money for the Koufoukikas to afford their first month’s rent and security deposit. 

“Our fundraiser was called “Huskies Supporting Families,” Thomas says, explaining that the Huskies is the name of Northeastern’s sports teams and a nickname for their students.  

While he didn’t know much about the family he would be welcoming, Thomas’s own experience as a transplant to Boston helped him empathize with them. For example, Northeastern RT GroupWe handed them out some jackets for the Boston weather. It kind of reminded me of growing up in Miami, [where it was] always like 75-80° out, and then coming to Boston, especially in the winter, it’s like 25° outside, so I think I definitely had that in mind.” 

Thomas further related to the experience of the Koufoukikas as a first-generation American. His mother was born in Brazil and his father in Mexico. 

“The immigrant perspective [I have] because of my family really drove me to help these people. I think being born in the US and being able to speak English and get around—it’s great to be able to use my skills and my familiarity [to help].” 

In addition to speaking English, Thomas speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and a little bit of French, which came in handy when he met the Koufoukikas at the airport.  

“The family only spoke French, and I did take two years of French in high school, but I kind of forgot a lot.” He says with a smile. “I made an effort though to speak with them. They seemed confused when we met, like, ‘Who are these people?’ But I introduced myself and then they understood a little bit better. 

Thomas introduced the Koufoukikas to a driver hired by IINE. While the driver didn’t speak French, he held up his phone to show them a screen displaying the family’s name. Thomas says “their eyes lit up” when they saw it.  

“It definitely made me realize how hard it can be,” he reflects. You can be approached by anyone—it’s not always someone that’s trying to help you out. Their journey was so long, They were at Dulles [Airport] for like 8 hours, being  interrogated by American immigration officials, and they finally made it to Boston and were super tired—it was just great to be able to assist them, moving them into a comfortable place to sleep in Boston so they could start their new life—[it makes me] realize just how fortunate I am.” 

After the driver took the Koufoukikas to a motel where they would stay while their apartment was being prepared, Thomas went back to Northeastern with his team members. They used the dormitory kitchen to prepare the family a Congolese-style chicken dish for which he had found a recipe online, and then delivered it to them—his last duty as a resettlement volunteer.  

Thomas left his experience inspired and plans to volunteer more in the future. He offers this advice to other students who may be interested: 

“I’d say go for it! Maybe it can be a little bit scary at first, but try to put yourself in their shoes. You know, it’s so hard for, especially refugees, who, they’re just, looking for a better life and a better future.” 

University of Massachusetts Boston: Data Dictionary, Housing Handbook, and ESOL for Equality 

Over at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, students in a class called, The Complex Landscape of Refugee Resettlement: Transnational Migration and Concurrent Realities,engaged in some other very practical projects with lasting impact 

Assessing Progress with a Data Dictionary   

After learning about the need from IINE staff, one group of UMass students developed what they called a “Data Dictionary,” a survey-based assessment tool to measure the effectiveness of IINE programs in helping refugees integrate into their new communities. Informed by their academic research, the diagnostic tool included questions for clients on how they were progressing in meeting their goals of achieving language skills, accessing public benefits, integrating into their new communities, achieving self-sufficiency, and progressing toward citizenship. The final tool was translated into two additional languages before being handed off to IINE case workers who now plan to pilot it with a family of refugee clients.  

A Housing-Search Handbook    

UMass Boston Resettlement volunteers worked on one of the first stages of the process—and one of the most challenging: finding affordable housing that’s walkable to key resources such as public transportation, grocery stores, and community centers, in a notoriously scarce housing market. After learning about the process and pitfalls of the housing search from IINE, the group of seven students set out to directly contact landlords to make their pitch about IINE clients as tenants, check availability and interest, and then pass on leads to IINE staff. They used information gleaned from the experience to help document and streamline the housing search, creating a spreadsheet that automates key listing information and a brochure full of useful tips and step-by-step instructions. 

Read IINE’s post on finding housing for refugees. 

“These resources are incredible!” says Kate, who supervised the project. “These students took the initiative, pushing through the intimidation factor of having informed, sensitive conversations, and handed us tools that make our work easier, and of course, greatly improve the lives of refugees making a fresh start here.” 

At the end of the project, students reflected on their learning and success. One student wrote,  

“This project really made me hone my research skills and learn how to be resourceful, and also gave me the opportunity to reflect on my position where housing isn’t an issue I have but is one I can help others with.”  

ESOL for Equality    

UMass Boston students in an English for Speakers of Other Languages cohort had the opportunity to step into the shoes of an instructor for some eager adult learners. Naming their project “ESOL for Equality,” each UMass Student was paired with one client currently on IINE’s ESOL waiting list. With training and guidance from IINE, they each designed and implemented an individualized course of study for their students and taught it over a semester.  

“These designs were really thoughtful and well executed!” says Kate. “Our ‘ESOL for Equality”’ instructors took the time to get to know their students’ goals and language levels and then helped teach the specific vocabulary they needed.”  

“One instructor wanted to meet her student at a local library, so she formed a relationship with the librarian, and as part of a class, helped her student get a library card. She also helped her open a bank account. Other instructors developed videos for the clients to help them drill lessons, worked with them over Zoom and coached them on digital literacy, played word games with them, and even took them on field trips to local museums! This went beyond English instruction, facilitating some great opportunities for social connections and cultural exchange.” 

Gianna Speaks, a UMass Boston Biochemistry major who served as an “ESOL for Equality” instructor and decided to continue as an IINE ESOL teacher when the project concluded, reflected, “Volunteering for ESOL was an eye-opening experience. It really allowed me to get a glimpse at the lives of refugees, and the similarities and differences in cultures and ways of life. It also gave me a peek into the struggles that come with having to adapt to a new language on top of everything else. It was very rewarding seeing how each lesson brought my client closer to their goals (getting a job/going to school).” 

•••

IINE is continuing to develop new forms of partnerships with higher education institutions. In April, IINE launched a pilot program at the Boston University Center for Forced Displacement. Instructors in the program are providing workshops for IINE case workers in refugee resettlement policy and practice, on the global and national levels, to broaden and contextualize their understanding of the field. The long-term goals of the initiative are to create a model that can be replicated by other universities and resettlement agencies and to create a credential for participants to help advance their careers.

With these first successes now in the books, IINE is excited to forge more partnerships with colleges and universities going forward, bringing together practitioners and researchers, and connecting the next wave of youth who have made their way to Boston to study with refugees who have come here seeking safety and a new start—all preparing for a bright future.

Nazia’s Story: An Afghan Refugee’s Relentless Commitment to Education and Hope

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The hardest and most important job

Growing up in Afghanistan, Nazia developed a true passion for teaching at a young age. She became an English instructor when she was in 10th grade, and for years, continued teaching for little or no money, eager to gain experience.  

“Teaching has been my dream job. In our country, people don’t have a good perspective about teaching – they think it’s a simple job, but it’s the hardest and most important job. A doctor once had a teacher. A president once had a teacher.”   

With time, Nazia became successful and well-known in her profession. While completing her university degree in education, she taught English to both children and university students, and then after graduating, accepted a role teaching adult learners online. With hard work and sacrifice, she had built a life for herself doing what she loved. 

 

A dark cloud 

Then, the Taliban came and took it all away. It was 2021, and Kabul had fallen in what felt like an instant.  

“[Women] lost the right to get an education and have a job. We couldn’t travel alone, we had to have a guardian. It felt like a really big, dark cloud had come over our country and it was not going to move away. It made everything dark. You felt like thunder was going to hit you; the thunder was the Taliban.” 

As a woman, it was now illegal for Nazia to teach. It took her a full year to find an opportunity to do so anywaya decision which came with real peril.

“Taliban were living in our neighborhood, so when I taught, I would close all the windows and doors. I felt afraid they would hear my voice talking in English, and I would cause danger for my family.” 

The Taliban did their best to fan the flames of her fear. 

“Two separate times, I received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number with a profile picture of the Taliban, asking me ‘Have you started teaching again?’ I deleted the message and blocked the account. It was terrifying, but I didn’t stop because there were a lot of women who needed education, they needed a light in the darkness. My class was not only for teaching English, it was to give students motivation to be brave, to never lose hope.” 

Nazia did not give up. In fact, she wanted to do more. She decided to start a social support and education group for fellow women living under the Taliban, which she named “Lifesaver Girls.” It took her many tries to find an education center brave enough to host this illegal gathering, but with perseverance, she was able to convene one meeting. She felt she had to. 

“After the Taliban took over, most of the girls got disappointed and depressed. This group motivated them. When they first came to the meeting, you could feel the hopelessness and [see] deep sorrow in their faces. We talked about some successful women who did their best in the hardest situations, and we introduced them to online ways to get an education. At the end of the session, you could see the brightness of hope in their eyes.”  

A really hard night 

Nazia had been living in Ghazni, a city about two hours from Kabul. In December of 2023, she received a call from the organization that was helping to evacuate her from Afghanistan. They told her to be in Kabul the next morning. Women were not allowed to travel alone, so she set off with her father. They waited 14 days before being evacuated to Pakistan. Then they had to walk an hour in the middle of the night to meet the driver who would take them to Pakistan and then to Qatar.  

“It was a really hard night. It was so stressful. At the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Taliban checked all of the stuff we had and asked ‘Where are you going? Are you going to a foreign country?’ I told them ‘No, I’m sick.’ My father was pushing me in a wheelchair so they would believe me.” 

Nazia told the Taliban that another male relative was waiting for her at the border, so that her father was able to leave her. Then she was alone. She was checked by the Taliban four separate times. When she got to Pakistan, she stayed three nights before being evacuated to a camp in Qatar. It was a difficult period.  

“It was like you are in a big jail. You are not allowed to go out of the camp. I was stressed that my case wouldn’t be accepted, and I would think about how I would live in Afghanistan. I would be arrested for leaving the country alone.”  

After 28 days, Nazia’s case was approved. She arrived in Boston in January 2024.  

Learning how to walk 

Nazia with IINE Career Navigator Emma Pond

Within one week of her arrival in Boston, Nazia enrolled in services at the International Institute of New England (IINE). Case Workers quickly helped her get her social security card, enroll in food benefits and health care, and acquire her work permit. IINE’s Education and Employment teams helped her to write a resume, begin searching for jobs, and explore opportunities to pursue a master’s degree. She was also invited to a monthly support group for fellow Afghan women to meet, socialize, share advice, and explore their new city together.  

IINE’s Afghan Women’s Group in Boston

Nazia says that the people she meets at IINE are “really kind and helpful. I’m really thankful.” She is adjusting to life in Boston and learning how to navigate new challenges with IINE’s help.  

“It has some hardships. I’m getting used to a new environment—living without my family, traveling alone—but it is an interesting experience. Nowadays, I’m like a baby trying to walk, standing and falling down, but still not losing hope. The baby is sure they will learn how to walk even though it is hard. Here in the U.S., I’m learning how to walk. IINE is helping me to learn.”  

Finding the light 

Even before she came to the U.S., Nazia had dreamed of pursuing a master’s degree and then a PhD at Harvard University. Now this dream feels closer. 

I came to Boston by chance— it’s a really beautiful coincidence. I want to get my master’s and PhD in [Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages], and one day, become a professor. Everyone says being a Harvard student would be hard; I agree it’s hard, but it is not impossible.” 

Nazia is also a writer. She has already had some success—a short story published on the website of a university in Iowa. She’s writing more short stories and hopes to write a romance novel one day. One thing’s for sure: nothing will stop her from striving for her dreams. It’s not easy, but she knows she now has support—and freedom.  

“In our country, we couldn’t go out after 5 p.m. Here, I can. I feel safe. There is no Taliban here, no one that will restrict me from following my dreams. When I have a hard time and miss my country, I walk around, and I see beautiful smiles. I feel ‘this might be hard, but I’m in a good environment… ‘I believe that when something is hard, it makes you the real version of you. There might be moments you feel down, like nothing is going to get right, but still in that moment, we can find the light.”  

We are proud to have welcomed, resettled, and supported refugees in the New England region for over 100 years. Learn more about our refugee resettlement work here.

An International Romance

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On Valentine’s Day, people across the world celebrate their love for each other by exchanging cards, candy, flowers, and heart-shaped gifts. While it appears Cupid is particularly busy shooting his love-laced arrows this time of year, we often forget that love doesn’t usually find its way on a Hallmark-sponsored holiday. In fact, many people stumble upon love at a time and place where it’s least expected. Some call this happenstance, others call it fate. The story of Carol and Herbert’s meeting is just that – a story of happenstance that brought two people from different worlds together.

It was March 29, 1962 when Carol arrived at Boston Logan Airport from Scotland. The 21-year-old came to the U.S. for a year-long contract to nanny for a local family after a classmate, who was already working as a nanny in Boston, wrote a letter urging her to come. It wasn’t long after her arrival that her friend introduced Carol to the International Institute of Boston (now International Institute of New England). During their days off, they attended events at the Institute, which was a social hub for the local immigrant and refugee community. It hosted events for locals and immigrants alike such as dances, games nights, and bus trips around the city.

On the rainy evening of June 24, the girls found themselves back at the Institute for dancing after a trip to Thompson Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands, was rained-out. The young women danced for a short time but decided to leave after receiving unwanted attention from several male guests. Making their way down the stairs from the third floor of the Institute, they found themselves among a group of party-goers on the next landing. Suddenly, a seemingly-confident young man strode over to the girls. “My name is Herbert Schuler,” he said, extending his hand to each, “my friends and I are having a party and would like you to join us.” After a whispered discussion, the girls decided to go with Herbert and his friends even though they were complete strangers. Later they discovered that the 33-year-old had emigrated from Germany six years prior to join his sister in the U.S., and despite his boisterous appearance, was actually quite shy.

After a low-key evening spent with their new German friends, the girls were escorted to the nearest T-station where everyone exchanged phone numbers. The young women agreed that Herbert resembled the young Lieutenant in the musical South Pacific and they both really liked him. A few days later, Carol was surprised to receive a call from Herbert who asked her out on a date. They had such a great time that their first date led to a second, and then a third. The chemistry between the two was undeniable, and when Herbert proposed marriage on their third date, Carol couldn’t refuse. The two became engaged in August of ‘62, and got married the following May.

Fifty-five years later, the couple has three children and four grandchildren whom they see often. Who knows if Cupid was flying around the Institute that night, but Carol told IINE staff that she believes not only are they fortunate to have found each other, but it was the best of luck to have met Herbert at the International Institute of New England all those years ago.

Have an ‘international’ love story? Share it in the comments section below!

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Finding a New Home in New England

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A Congolese family resettled by the International Institute of New England puts tragedy behind them to rebuild their lives in Lowell

Rose Mukundi Muswumba is a not just a fighter, she is a warrior. A widowed mother of ten, Rose struggled to raise and provide for her children on her own after her husband was killed in their native country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her husband had been investigating human rights violations, and after his death government officials came for Rose and her children, forcing the family to flee to Uganda in 2004.

Rose could not fathom a life free from fear and despair, but she was determined to give a safer life with better opportunities to her children. She endured numerous obstacles to get to the United States; she engineered her escape from the Congo by convincing a man to let her and her children hide among animals in the back of his truck as he drove across the border.

In Uganda, Rose and her children shared a small two-room apartment, but moved from place to place because militia from the Congo continued to pursue them. Her son Rodrigue recalls how there were days when the family had little to eat if they could afford a meal, they saved half the food because they did not know where the next meal would come from.

After many years of a hardscrabble existence, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees referred Rose and her family for resettlement in the United States.
After a lengthy process, the United States government approved their admission, and they arrived in Lowell, Massachusetts in August of 2016.

“I remember being at the airport when the family arrived,” recalled Jennifer Chesnulovitch, an employment specialist with IINE-Lowell. “Although everyone was exhausted from the long trip from Uganda, I watched Rose smile as her children pulled their luggage off the carousel. Like many of our beneficiaries, the smile signaled a combination of relief and hope.”

Shortly after her arrival in Lowell, Rose began attending IINE’s English classes while her children secured work – a role reversal for the natural caregiver.  Within months, however, Rose shared that she also wanted to enter the workforce and fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. Chesnulovitch recognized her strength as a nurturer and in January 2017 helped enroll her in a Home Health Aid training at Middlesex Community College. Rose used her advanced English skills to speak at the training’s graduation, highlighting how her dream was becoming true.

Upon completion of the training, Rose worked part-time as a home health aide and enrolled in an advanced Certified Nursing Aide (CNA) training program. Soon she will complete the program and be eligible to work as a Certified Nurse.

“My life is much better in the United States,” Rose said. “I have many more opportunities – I can work, save money, attend trainings, and my children have education. I am free. I am happy again.”

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What Would You Risk?

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Imagine being faced with a terrible choice – risk persecution, imprisonment, and torture, or leave behind everything you’ve ever known for a slim chance at safety? What would you do, if your survival was at stake?

Every day across the world, people like you and me are forced to flee their homelands because of violence and persecution. This is the reality of an unprecedented 21.3 million refugees worldwide, including the 623 refugee women, men, and children from 20 countries that the International Institute of New England (IINE) resettled in the past year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. These clients had the courage to fight for new lives, and with our help are now reclaiming the future that was stolen from them.

Recently, I met Hanna Petros Solomon, a refugee from Eritrea who risked her life twice to come to the United States. Orphaned at a young age, Hanna and her siblings had little chance of surviving one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Together, they made the decision to escape – and were caught. For three years, Hanna was transferred from prison to prison, places known to be rife with torture and other human rights abuses.

Eventually, Hanna convinced a prison guard to let her go. This time, she successfully escaped from Eritrea with her siblings and fled to Ethiopia, before resettling to the U.S. as a refugee in 2012 and reuniting with her grandmother and sister in Boston. Yet the safety of family and a new life could not erase the trauma she experienced in her homeland. To acclimate to her new surroundings and transition to American life, Hanna needed the diligent assistance of IINE staff.

Hanna’s caseworker placed her in our English and Cultural Orientation classes at our Boston site, where she learned how to navigate her new city and its cultural expectations. Hanna then enrolled in and graduated from our Hospitality Training Program, and with the help of her training specialist found work as a server at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.

Today, Hanna is looking ahead to her next graduation ceremony. As a junior at Tufts University studying clinical psychology, she is determined to help others like her heal from mental and emotional trauma. One day, Hanna would like to return to Eritrea and be a part of fixing its broken mental healthcare system. But first, we are pleased to welcome her as an intern at IINE in Boston this summer.

“I chose to intern at IINE,” explains Hanna, “because I want to show clients and my refugee peers that they can make it in life. They have the chance to change their lives.

In 2016, the Institute served 1,737 new Americans like Hanna. As our nation wrestles with questions about how open our borders and society should be, IINE continues to provide education, job training, and other critical programming to people seeking safety and the chance of prosperity. Our services are needed now more than ever, and we are grateful for the support and dedication of our community.

Today, we ask you to help those whose lives have been upended by violence and persecution. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift and honor the courage and bravery of people like Hanna, as they work toward a brighter future in the United States.

As we prepare to celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20, we have an opportunity this year to receive a matching $25,000 contribution thanks to the generosity of some of our supporters. For all gifts made to IINE by June 30, these donors will match dollar-for-dollar all gifts of $1,000 or more, and will provide a match of 50 cents for every dollar raised from contributions of less than $1,000. This means your gift will go farther and help even more immigrants and refugees – but only until June 30.

Thank you for your generous support, and for helping us give newcomers like Hanna a chance to change their lives.

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Fostering Friendships over Food

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IINE-Lowell and local community groups unite residents and newcomers at shared dinners.

On Jan. 24, 2017, Lowell community members and three newly- arrived Congolese families gathered for a meal at IINE-Lowell’s site office. The potluck meal was hosted by the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Khalil Abdo’s smile disguises the difficult journey that brought his family from Syria to Lowell, Massachusetts. In 2013, war and violence forced them to leave their homeland, and in 2016 they became some of the few Syrians granted resettlement in the U.S. When the family of seven arrived, Khalil knew little English and relied on interpreters to navigate his new surroundings. In Lowell he faced challenges as he adjusted to a new community, addressed urgent medical issues, and searched for employment. The first months for any refugee in the United States are challenging, yet can be eased by a warm welcome from new neighbors. Last summer, IINE-Lowell staff worked with community and faith groups to organize a series of welcome dinners for newly arrived refugees. Since the launch, 12 refugee families have participated in a welcome dinner, including the Abdo family who attended one hosted by IINE supporters in Andover, Mass.

Held in a local hall, the space was brightly decorated and an array of ethnic and traditional American foods was available for all to enjoy. The dynamic at each welcome dinner is slightly different. When a group of professors hosted Congolese families recently, the hosts and their guests spontaneously broke out in African dancing. At another dinner, the group discussed shared interests and cultural traditions. In Andover, Khalil and his wife and children practiced English and Arabic words with their new friends over chocolate cake.

Welcome dinners are easy to organize, and their impact is enduring. Through the relationships formed, refugees secure play dates for their children, learn about job opportunities, and get insights on the American healthcare system and culture. At the same time, families such as Khalil’s share the experience of their journey with their hosts. This gives American families an intimate perspective on the global refugee crisis. At the end of dinner in Andover, Khalil surprised the organizers by sharing that the evening was his sixth-month anniversary in the U.S. Smiling, he told the group, “This is the first night in the country where I only feel joy, only joy. Thank you.”

Many of these welcome dinners are hosted by Resettle Together volunteers, a growing network of community partners who help refugee families rebuild their lives in New England.  They also provide immediate and long-term support to refugees and immigrants on the road to self-sufficiency. If you’re interested in becoming a Resettle Together partner, contact Cheryl Hamilton at chamilton@iine.org.

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Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center Supports New Americans on the Path to Success

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IINE-Manchester partners with Crotched Mountain to help refugees and immigrants begin healthcare careers

The biggest challenge for Khem Basnet when he arrived in the U.S. was studying for his driver’s license exam and buying a car, which was vital to getting a job in New Hampshire. In 2008, the International Institute of New England resettled Khem and his family from Nepal to Manchester, an area with vast expanses of highways and country roads. In order to help support his family, he needed a car.

Khem quickly achieved his goal of passing a driver’s test and buying a used car. He was able to get a job at a fast food restaurant, and for three months Khem worked 80hours a week to make ends meet. His life in America bore little resemblance to life in his homeland where he was an accomplished teacher. When he applied for a position as a residential counselor at the Crotched Mountain Foundation, a rehabilitation center in Greenfield, NH that serves students and adults with severe disabilities, he assumed this was just another job. It was on the Mountain, however, that he found something more than a job—he discovered a career.

““I was able to use my expertise and experience doing something that had meaning and purpose and this is what I share with other foreign staff. At Crotched Mountain, you have the opportunity to do incredibly important work and climb the professional ladder.”

Khem began his career at Crotched Mountain as a Community Residence Manager and worked his way up to manage three residences. He was eventually promoted to his current role as the Human Resources Diversity Recruiter.

Over the past two years, Khem recruited and hired more than 20 IINE-Manchester clients as Crotched Mountain staff members. In addition, he holds weekly meetings with the Institute’s staff in Manchester to pre-qualify and prepare new recruits for the demands of being residential counselors and paraprofessionals.“ The International Institute is incredibly supportive of us,” he says. “They are one of our strongest partners.”

Today, as he stands in his office at Crotched Mountain overlooking the sprawling horizon of the Monadnock Valley, he has found contentment in a simple truth: New Hampshire is home and is a place where he has found personal and professional success.

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