The following are reflections from Hopeprint Intern Mercedes, our Hopeprint Kids Program Coordinator:
In recent years, the word “refugee” has seemed to cause quite a stir, both in our nation and worldwide. It seems that there are many different opinions on what actions should be taken regarding these individuals, and in the process it can be quite easy to forget that it isn’t just a word or circumstance that is being discussed. We are talking about individuals and families. Children, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. People with hopes and dreams who want to provide for and support their families. These are real people with real stories moving into our communities, and the more that we acknowledge that the easier it is to see how much of an opportunity we have to learn from and support each other.
Even though I have lived in a variety of places in throughout my life, it wasn’t until I moved to Syracuse that I had an opportunity to work with the refugee population. I was drawn to Hopeprint because I loved it’s focus on building community among those who run the program and those that participate. As I have participated in programming the past few months, I have repeatedly seen the love and care given and received extends across cultures and languages. While sometimes the language barrier can seem frustrating, it is also forces you to slow down and really concentrate on making a connection with those around you. Sometimes simply sitting with someone or just acknowledging their struggle can make an incredible impact on the life of an individual or family.
Most of my work with Hopeprint has been with children, and this has allowed me to see some of the specific challenges that refugee children face. While schoolwork can be a challenge anyways, imagine how much more difficult it can be for ESL students whose parents can’t explain the instructions for them at home. It can be embarrassing to ask for help, especially when they seem to speak English well but struggle with reading and writing. Every day, I see how bright these students are and how eager they are to learn and my heart breaks that I can’t do more to help.
The more I work with Hopeprint I am continually reminded of how important it is to develop the skill of creating relationships. It is in those relationships that we discover who we are and how the world really works around us so that we don’t just have to rely on what the media tells us. My hope is that as we continue to foster relationships within our communities, we will create opportunities for us to learn and grown from each other and create a better world in the process.
For more information on how you can intern with Hopeprint, go to http://hopeprint.org/internship/.