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The importance of first impressions

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Albert and his aunt Francine arrived in Atlanta during a time of chaos, right in the midst of the President’s first travel ban, in early February 2017. As they flew into Hartsfield-Jackson International airport that night, they already knew their arrival would be far from ordinary.

Albert waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives in Atlanta.
Albert waves to the cheering crowd as he arrives in Atlanta. Photo: Artem Nazarov

As they stepped out onto the concourse scanning the crowd, Albert and Francine quickly found their relatives – Francine’s daughter Alaine and her husband, who had arrived in September 2016 with their two young children – and ran into their arms. Behind them stood more than 300 Atlantans, cheering, crying, waving banners and singing songs to welcome them to their new home, as a show of solidarity with refugees around the world. Albert’s first impression of America? You are welcome here.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 24-year-old Albert and his aunt Francine had been living as refugees in Uganda since 2012, and were full of relief to be reunited with their family members who had left to start their new lives five months previously. After an exciting arrival, Albert quickly adapted to his new life and embraced the IRC in Atlanta’s available programs and services. Strong willed and highly motivated to find work, Albert regularly attended vocational English classes to ensure that he understood how to make a good first impression at job interviews and in the workplace. As a fluent English speaker, Albert naturally took a supportive role in helping his fellow classmates with their English and navigating their new lives in the U.S.

A family reunited!
A family reunited! Photo: Shelsea Doran

Albert worked intensively with the IRC in Atlanta’s Economic Empowerment team on his resume and job development. Job Placement Associate, Taylor Morris said: “Albert was always early for appointments and was so eager to make a good first impression. He would even dress professionally on interview practice days – just in case!”

With a professional background in bricklaying and construction, combined with his positive attitude and high level of English, Albert was able to secure employment within just three months of his arrival. Now working at Trulite, a window manufacturing facility, Albert’s position is full-time and offers health benefits, and has helped him to better integrate into his new community and support himself and his family.

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Alexis Buchanan, Development Manager at Alexis.Buchanan [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8930.

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