The IRC in New York’s location benefits from many elements of living in New York – diverse communities, mass public transportation, and a thriving job market, to name a few – but most important among these are relationships with exceptional academic institutions. The IRC in New York hosts Master in Social Work candidates from New York universities, including The Columbia University School of Social Work. These candidates are critical team players to the IRC in New York's direct service and research initiatives to provide housing, connect clients to supportive programs, and guide refugee families through the resettlement process.
This year, Sixuan Bao has worked with the IRC in NY as a MSW intern with the resettlement team. Sixuan’s research is interested in areas of gender-focused services. As her year-long project with the IRC and her program, Sixuan is developing a childcare manual to help refugee mothers navigate childcare services in New York City. She has also conducted outreach to over twenty organizations that support women in New York City to connect clients to potential services.
Sixuan brought her IRC experience full circle over her spring break when she visited Amman, Jordan to work with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) in Jordan. The Center for Victims of Torture office in Jordan was established in 2008 to help highly traumatized Iraqi refugees. Sixuan and her group of four students from Columbia worked with CVT to develop a Sexual and Gender Based Violence assessment tool and make recommendations for program improvements by evaluating capacity, identifying gaps, and addressing needs within the program. Sixuan interviewed local CVT social workers to build her report for the organization.
Sixuan observed CVT’s current services and thought about her time with the IRC in New York, particularly the IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment initiatives. As Sixuan found the IRC’s model very effective and easily replicable, she contacted IRC’s headquartered Women’s Protection and Empowerment staff in the US focused on women’s empowerment to see how the IRC could connect with CVt’s work. The IRC’s lead Women’s Protection and Empowerment team then connected Sixuan to local IRC staff in Amman. Sixuan had a new appreciation for the IRC’s global presence and strong commitment to serving as a collaborative partner for service providers all over the world.
Local IRC Women’s Protection and Empowerment staff, Manal and Samah, connected Sixuan to resources to build an assessment tool for CVT’s gender-focused work. The IRC has been present in Jordan since 2007, and brings its network of expertise not only to its own work in the country but to potential partners and similarly engaged groups. Sixuan consulted with IRC Women’s Protection and Empowerment staff in her recommendation report to CVT as well, where she was struck by the welcoming environment IRC staff created and their deep willingness to share resources and collective knowledge to achieve better outcomes for those in need.
The IRC has set a goal to be a leader in humanitarian work both by establishing evidence-based best practices and services and by sharing this growing body of evidence to strengthen the humanitarian field as a whole. Sixuan was able to see this goal in practice by connecting her internship with the IRC in New York to services with CVT in Amman, Jordan.
We at the IRC in New York are very proud of Sixuan’s exceptional work both in New York and abroad, and can’t wait to see where her MSW will bring her in the future!
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