Volunteer Spotlight: An interview with Jennifer Huang
Jennifer is a long-term IRC volunteer who has been involved with countless projects both in the Oakland and San Francisco offices.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I immigrated to the United States from Thailand in 2005. I am originally from Taiwan but moved to Thailand at a very young age. I graduated from University of California Berkeley with a degree in Public Health and am currently working at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Why did you choose to volunteer with the IRC?
IRC is a huge multi-faceted organization, one that I first heard about in Thailand. I was very impressed with their work not only in the United States, but globally, and wished to be a part of it. I have always wanted to work in a setting where I can meet people from all over the world and IRC offers exactly that. I've met and became friends with people from Iraq, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Burma, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and the list keeps going on. It's amazing how much you can learn about people and their backgrounds just from volunteering.
What benefit do you get from volunteering?
Being able to see the difference I make in the work I do is the greatest benefit that one can get from any volunteering experience. Even the simplest task of helping an individual or family obtain social services benefits, taking them to complete their health screenings, enrolling their children into school, or showing them how to use the bus system makes me feel like I am making their transition into the United States a little easier, and that's all that really matters.
I feel a great sense of responsibility for my work because IRC relies on volunteers to make sure clients have a successful resettlement experience in the United States. This responsibility makes me feel like I am truly a part of IRC and that I actually do make a difference in the lives of the people I am serving.
How do you think your experience with the IRC will benefit you in the future?
Volunteering with IRC has also given me a completely new perspective in life. I have been so extremely blessed with a life where I hardly had to worry and never had to fear. Working with refugees gives me the opportunity to express how unbelievably grateful and humble I feel to have the life I do now. Having that perspective will be very valuable in whatever I end up doing in the future.
What do you like about the IRC?
IRC has been a second family to me. The staff and volunteers I work with have been incredibly welcoming, and I have no words to truly show my deep appreciation for their company and kindness. The work that they do is amazing and they remain some of the sincerest people I have ever encountered. I love IRC for its people!
To inquire about volunteer orientations or for more information, please contact Nicole Germanov at Nicole.Germanov@theIRC.org, or (510) 452-8222.