Elena Gleed.

HIAS - Silver Spring, MD

Project Description

Preston Public Interest Career Fund Recipient

HIAS, the “global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees,” is an international organization designated by the federal government which assists refugees in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and the United States. HIAS’ New York and Washington D.C. headquarters assist private affiliate organizations across the United States in areas such as cross- cultural orientation, English language education, pre-arrival proceedings, and post-arrival resettlement. Additionally, HIAS works closely with both Congress and the U.S. State Department in advocating for refugee rights and programming. Refugee resettlement is an area I have been increasingly and deeply invested in during my time at Bowdoin. It is an issue I see directly effecting the community I live in, and is an issue I am passionate about pursuing after graduation.

This semester, I have worked closely with the Somali-Bantu refugee population in Lewiston, ME. I am currently pursuing a community-based research project in Professor Henry’s Social Protest and Political Change seminar which seeks to analyze refugee arrival in Lewiston through social movement political theory. I am tracing the arrival and development of Somali-Bantu refugees in the area, as well as the rise of the Lewiston-based countermovement that has since sprung up in response. This experience has given me a personal appreciation for the incredible hardships that face refugees once they arrive in the United States, and the complexities of any resettlement program. My work this semester has opened my eyes to the cultural, economic and political challenges in any community that must integrate itself with a foreign population. Researching the work of local Lewiston organizations and their national partners has introduced me to refugee resettlement as a professional field which combines my interest and experience in women’s rights, international relations and the Muslim world. I have struggled in my first two years at Bowdoin to find a career path in which all of my academic interests are relevant. Working in refugee resettlement and policy implementation provides the intersectionality I have been looking for in a professional context.

This summer I have the opportunity to work directly with a team devoted to successful refugee resettlement programming. I will be responsible for supporting staff in areas of cultural orientation, and pre-arrival case processing. This includes managing case-files and conducting research that is specific to the location and culture of affiliate organizations across the country. The Career Planning Funded Internship Grant will allow me to work with HIAS full time, devoting myself completely to this experience.

Project Details

  • Date September 22, 2017
  • Tags 2017, Junior, Preston, Social Service

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