Over the course of four days, International Leaders from Portugal learned of the processes included in refugee resettlement and integration into a new community. This refugee resettlement process was detailed by several professionals in the Arizona Valley with experience and knowledge of successful cases of refugee resettlement and community integration within the United States.
On Monday, June 20th, our IVLP group from Portugal celebrated World Refugee Day with the Refugee Focus Team in Northern Phoenix. Mr. Craig Thoresen, a representative from the Refugee Focus Team, reviewed the history of the organization and led a discussion covering programs of priority within the organization. Of those programs discussed were: self-sufficiency programs, housing services, language trainings and others.
Mr. Thoresen’s discussion of these key programs lead the group to compare efforts in other nations to that of those ongoing in Arizona and throughout the United States. Such comparisons promote stronger refugee programs and expedited development of various programs. TheRefugee Focus Team maintains 35 staff members, speaks 38 different languages and resettles almost 1000 refugees per year. Our IVLP group was also given a tour of the facility and were able to discuss work with other staff members to learn of their daily duties and how complex refugee resettlement can become as cases continuously encounterissues with new information and different protocol procedures.
In a meeting with the International Rescue Committee, Development Manager Chris Debreceni provided an overview of how the IRC provides programs such as resettlement, education, economic empowerment, health and wellness and protection to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Being the United States is one of the most democratic nations in the world, many who resettle here as a registered refugee or immigrant must follow specific processes and procedures in order to remain legally permitted to stay in the United States as a refugee.
While there are many organizations piloting change and increasing support for refugee resettlement programs, there are organizations following a path of faith while remaining true to their missions of strengthening refugee programs in the United States. One such organization is Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities’ refugee program serves refugees every year from all over the world, and help refugees connect to a caring community as they begin getting acclimated to a new culture.Assimilation into a new society is pivotal for a successful transition into communities welcoming refugees.
One of the last appointments for the International Visitor Leadership Program from Portugal was with Collin Cunningham, the Executive Director for the Welcome to America Project (WTAP). Collin leads WTAP with a heart for the refugee community and a background in volunteer and nonprofit management. Collin discussed the many facets of the WTAP and the role of communities in helping refugees to integrate into the community.
Overall, the IVLP from Portugal participated in discussions impacting change in the area of refugee resettlement. In a world currently at odds in places where war, natural disasters, and other life threatening conflicts exist, our nation remains committed to alleviating the stress of resettlement into new societies. Whether it be a small town in Northern Arizona or a large community in Phoenix, organizations assisting with such transitions from places abroad contribute to the overall mission of creating a globalist society whereas citizens from various nations work together to aid refugees in their integration into new communities.