On a cold day in February, Debra wore her bright orange jacket as she walked into the Ascentria Client Center, formerly Lutheran Social Services of New England. It was her first day as a volunteer with refugees in the Cultural Orientation program.
A nurse who works in public health, Debra was prepared to teach a class to recently arrived refugees about hygiene in America. Her presentation covered topics like washing hands regularly and covering coughs.
At the end of class, a young Somali woman named Amaani* approached Debra with a translator. Amaani wore traditional all-black Somali clothing and wanted to express her admiration of the vibrant color of Debra’s jacket.
Debra smiled and asked Amaani if she’d like to try it on. Amaani was surprised, but she gladly tried on the jacket. It was a perfect fit! Without hesitation, Debra told Amaani to keep the jacket. Surprised, Amaani accepted and beamed a happy, confident and grateful smile.
LIRS supports refugees in both expected and unexpected ways as they adjust to life in a new country and culture. We believe in a long welcome that brings refugees and Americans like Amaani and Debra closer together.
*Names changed to protect privacy.