For Summer Interns, All Paths Lead to IRC
After punching her alarm clock at 6:30 am, two cups of coffee and a 90 minute commute bring Bojana Bozic to the front door of the IRC in Atlanta. Here she starts her day as a resource development intern by working in the Resettlement Shop, where newly arrived refugees select donated clothing and housewares that they need.
Bojana is just one of 40 interns who have come from all over the United States and as far as Paris, France, to work at the IRC in Atlanta this summer. Every intern is supervised by an IRC staff member and volunteers his or her time in a specific department.
A Serbian refugee who was resettled by the IRC in 1996, Bojana knows firsthand the role the international agency plays in forging a second chance for refugee families. Now a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles, Bojana came to IRC Atlanta this summer because she wanted to return the favor that was done for her.
About her experience so far, Bojana says, “I really enjoy how hands-on my job is at the IRC. It is very difficult to restart your life in a new country, so I try to help each person find what fits his or her needs in the Resettlement Shop. I love personally interacting with the refugees, and their kids are fun to play with, as well!”
Bojana Bozic works in the Resettlement Shop (Photo: Tom Barnes)
For David Roth, an intern with the Youth Futures program, Monday may mean bowling or a trip to the High Museum of Art, but Tuesday may bring a college campus visit. This array of field trips makes for a packed summer for David and the refugee teens he mentors in this academic success program. “What inspires me is learning how each kid’s experiences have impacted the way they look at the world now. For instance, they share what they have with one another.”
His time with Youth Futures here has generated a new goal for David, who says, “One summer, I would really like to intern in Palestine, working with youth and development programs in refugee camps there.”
David Roth with two Youth Futures students (Photo: IRC Atlanta)
While David volunteers with refugee teens, University of Georgia junior Yuliya Bila is spending the summer helping to ensure that elementary school children have a strong start when classes begin in the fall. Working alongside IRC Atlanta’s school specialist, Yuliya liaises between elementary schools and refugee parents, educating parents about American expectations for school attendance, classroom behavior, and parent involvement.
Born in the Ukraine, Yuliya moved to the United States at the age of ten. Having been through starting over herself, she knows exactly what young refugees may experience as they arrive in a new country.
“I love helping prepare our refugee children for the vast world of opportunities that is now in front of them.” She adds, “In my view, there should be enough political, ethnic and religious stability in the world for these children to not have to cross continents just to feel safe on their way to school. In the long term, that is what I want to work toward.”
With high aspirations for the future, these interns are building a strong foundation of life and work experience at IRC in Atlanta this summer. To learn more about these or other ways to get involved, click here.