Former Archeologist Finds Treasure as IRC Atlanta Intern
A search under the keyword "refugee" on a volunteer opportunity website helped Erin Drake discover IRC Atlanta, but she's used to doing a different kind of digging. During her five years as an archeologist for Terracon, Inc., Erin directed preconstruction surveys on federal or state owned land determine if any archeology sites were present and if they would qualify for federal protection. She worked closely with Native American tribes to catalogue the findings on the sites.
After obtaining her Master's degree in anthropology from Georgia State University last May, Erin decided she wanted to put her experience in cultural sensitivity and preservation to use helping people in need. Intrigued with the IRC’s mission, she signed up as an intern to work with Case Manager Nikhil Rao in resettlement services.
Since joining the IRC team, she's been helping with the day-to-day tasks involved in getting families settled in the Atlanta area. She's driven refugees to their first health checkup, taught them how to use the bus and train system, and even helped to locate lost baggage. What she likes best about the work is the face time with refugee clients.
"It's nice when you see a light bulb go off," says Erin, "and you know that a refugee just learned how to do something that they couldn't do before," like make their own doctor's appointment or read a form.
In the future, Erin hopes to work in case management herself. Meanwhile, she's enjoying her time at IRC Atlanta, which has its own rewards. Says Erin, "These refugees teach me so much every day."