Cultural Orientation Class Begins
Anyone who has ever moved to or visited an unfamiliar place knows there is always a lot to learn about the new surroundings. For many recently arrived refugees learning about housing, banking, transportation, and education is further complicated by the need to learn English as well as how to navigate a new culture. Most refugees receive an overseas cultural orientation to help prepare them for what they will encounter in the United States. This orientation provides an important bridge to transitioning to life in the United States, but the majority of the orientation happens once refugees arrive in their new community.
Case managers with the IRC in Seattle provide an in-depth and individualized cultural and community orientation. This is augmented by the work that IRC Friend of the Family mentors do with individuals and families. Now the IRC in Seattle has a six week cultural orientation series, one more support service to offer new arrivals as they begin the process of learning how to navigate their new community.
On Wednesday, February 17th, the IRC in Seattle started the new program. During the first few sessions, Cultural Orientation instructor Kirsten Downey covered "People and Time". "We had a lot of enthusiasm for the topic… students were able to make the connections between their lives and the information presented." Kirsten’s class consists of twenty students from Burma, Bhutan and Eritrea, all of whom have recently arrived and are still becoming acquainted with their new surroundings.
Kirsten returns to the IRC in Seattle after a three year period working with newly arrived refugees at IRC in New York. She did, however, get her start here in the Seattle office as a volunteer in 2006 and we’re glad to have her back. In New York, Kirsten helped start a funded Cultural Orientation program and she brings to us a broad range of skills and resources she acquired while working with our fellow IRC office.
Return to the IRC in Seattle