Last Wednesday, our class was lucky enough to be in the presence of Rebecca Sprague, the Life Skills Teacher and Community Program Coordinator for Church World Service of Harrisonburg. The Church World Service (CWS) Immigration and Refugee Program located in downtown Harrisonburg has resettled refugees from all over the world since 1988.
Rebecca, taught me so much about refugee resettlement in a matter of an hour. She went through the logistics of resettlement including the list of services CWS must provide to the refugees within the first month:
1. Safe, clean, and affordable housing
2. Essential furnishings for their new home
3. Food and food allowance
4. Necessary clothing
5. Assistance in health screening and appropriate health programs
6. Assistance in applying for Social Security Cards
7. Registering the children in school
8. Employment training and employment services
I think its important to understand exactly what the process of resettlement entails before we depart for Arizona. 16 MORE DAYS! (Not that I’m counting). Although the logistics do carry great importance, Rebecca’s explanation of the cycles of violence was perhaps the most striking part of her presentation. Rebecca provided us with the necessary tools to understand how to break the cycles of violence and how to build resistance such as transforming conflict by negotiating solutions. My favorite part of Rebecca was being able to connect what Aaron has been teaching us over the past few weeks to people right here in Harrisonburg. It made this whole thing feel REAL if that makes sense.
For some more background information about CWS, you should watch this video made by some fellow JMU students!