CCD: Tell us about your experience. What were your responsibilities?
HA: The International Institute of New England is a non-profit resettlement agency that works to integrate migrants, refugees, trafficking victims, and asylum seekers into the United States by providing basic services, English classes, career help, legal counsel, and a number of other aid resources. My primary responsibilities included calling clients to check in on them and see if they require any additional assistance from our case specialists, specifically calling Arabic-speaking clients to better understand their needs and facilitate communication between them and IINE staff.
CCD: What inspired you to get this internship?
HA: This work was largely what drew me to choose this internship; my first-hand experience interacting with refugees and migrants of all statuses has enabled me to be a quick learner and handle challenges with grace as they arise.
CCD: What was the best thing about the experience? What was the worst?
HA: I believe what was most rewarding about my experience was the relationships I formed with IINE’s clients. Speaking in Arabic to Arabic-speaking clients helped clients navigate settling into the United States and allowed them to feel more comfortable. What was most challenging about the internship was definitely learning to navigate the convoluted Massachusetts healthcare system for clients, as I initially expressed this as a concern before beginning my internship. It was difficult finding clients the individualized healthcare they need but fortunately, the learning curve was smaller than I expected.
CCD: What was the most memorable moment of your experience?
HA: The most memorable moment for me has been hearing the relief of clients when I speak to clients in their native language (Arabic). It is so much easier for clients to communicate and convey their needs when they get to speak in their native language.
CCD: What is the biggest takeaway from your internship position?
HA: After completing my internship, I truly realized how valuable non-profit work is for under-served populations and for those with precarious legal statuses in the United States. I hope to go to law school in the future, and my legal outreach experience towards the end of the internship really helped solidify my passion for this work. I realized the importance of advocating for those who cannot advocate on behalf of themselves, and I hope to continue pursuing this as a senior at BU and later on as well.