Ode to Refugee and Immigrant Community Services

Today was the last day at my internship. For those of you who don’t religiously read my blog, I interned from August to today at Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS), a partner of Heartland Alliance. Specifically I worked in Youth and Family Services (YFS) a sub-department in Refugee and Immigrant Community Services (RICS). Is that enough acronyms for you yet? Non-profits are almost as good as the government at creating useless jargon slang.

Anyway, my time at Heartland was so amazing that I could barely bring myself to say goodbye. In fact, I didn’t, I am volunteering to help out with summer programming (yes, I did sign up for beach day). Heartland, and RICS in particular, is such a unique and amazing place to work. Members of my cohort are traumatized by some of their internships and more than a few have reconsidered their career choice as a result. Everyday I went into my internship was a good day. It was such an amazing atmosphere to work in and I dread leaving it knowing that so few places manage to balance friendliness and professionalism.

Not only was it a great place to work because of the environment and staff, but every person who works there is a valued member of the team. I never felt critiqued when I offered suggestions in a situation and was surprised when a few of my thoughts actually were helpful and implemented.

Probably the greatest part of my internship were the participants. From the department names I hope you gathered that I worked with Refugee and Immigrant Youths and their families (this also includes asylees). I cannot put into words the impact the participants had on my life. I really feel like I learned so much from them and that they offered me opportunities to see the world in a unique way. From humor to food to language to gender roles and beyond, the participants showed me how many styles exist. I adore the people I met and am sad that I won’t see them .

However, I cannot seem to find an urge to frown or express my sadness and loss. The program I left has so much going for it and so many new and exciting ideas constantly being added to it’s already stellar calendar. It is a place of progress and pushing limits. It is a place where new ideas or welcomed and all the voices are heard.

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