Two Interns Become AmeriCorps Volunteers for IRC in Atlanta
The IRC in Atlanta has been incredibly fortunate to benefit from the dedication and expertise of two outstanding interns, Chris Carpenter and Stephanie Bentley, for nearly a year. Now after the two were selected as the office’s AmeriCorps volunteers they will be able to continue their service for a second year.
Carpenter (left) and Bentley (right) collaborating at the IRC in Atlanta
Photo: Duncan de la Feld / IRC
Chris began his volunteer service as an intern teaching ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) in January. In June the staff instructor, Suzanne Balint, left for maternity leave and Chris was hired to be the temporary instructor until her return. Rather than losing him the IRC will continue to benefit from his experience in his new role as AmeriCorps Job Training Associate.
Chris has a strong appreciation for volunteerism. In addition to his time with the IRC he served for four-and-a-half years with the Peace Corps in Senegal and China. He has also seen the other side from his experience as ESOL Instructor. “I have different classes with a lot of different interns and volunteers that I use,” he says. “I couldn’t teach my class – especially the beginning level classes, it can sometimes be 40, 50, or even 70 people – without this set of volunteers and interns.”
Stephanie was an intern for the Economic Empowerment Department in the Atlanta office for many months but had worked with refugees in Palestine before then. “I came to the IRC because I was impressed with the scope of both its international and national work,” she says. “I wanted to continue working with refugees.”
As the AmeriCorps Employment Associate Stephanie will continue working with many of the clients she met while interning. Her greatest satisfaction comes from helping refugee clients become self-reliant. “I’ve been unemployed, and I know a job is everything when you don’t have one,” she tells the IRC.
Both Chris and Stephanie are very excited about continuing their work with the IRC. Stephanie is very passionate about her decision. “I believe in community service; that’s what gets me to come in the morning.” Chris adds, “Originally I thought I would be here for a few months but really it sort of pulled me in. I really was much more excited and engaged about everything here then I thought I would be. I just really love the refugees. The community that is here is really amazing.”