Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 1255: Neighborhood House - ILC

After one full week of exams, my brain decided to fry itself on a frying pan and say goodbye to its existence. Don't worry, I found another one lying on the side of the road. This one must be better than my last one. I've had that one for ages. (This is my excuse for not blogging for 2 weeks.)

Today, I went to Neighborhood House, specifically the International Learning Center (ILC). It is a learning center for refugees. I have to say, I was incredibly moved by the experience. In all honesty, the location was a bit unassuming. The director gave us a little spiel about what the organization does, its history, and what roles that wanted from us (medical students). It wasn't until we were visiting classrooms and just walking around that I saw what a truly wonderful place Neighborhood House ILC is. I was reading short personal essays written by Hmong, Laotian, Burmese, and African refugees and I was truly moved. It was really basic English, probably at elementary school level, but thinking about what these people had gone through, to be placed in an entirely different/foreign/new place, starting over, learning a new language and new monetary system and government system and everything, was all worthwhile of taking a breath and focusing wholeheartedly on what their lives must be like. Neighborhood House ILC offers citizenship classes, English classes, math classes and computer classes. The entire experience was very eye-opening and very, very humbling. It made me realize how absurd I am in my desire for the newest, shiniest article of clothing. I'm sure the humility will wear off (aka I will still want to shop), but I wanted to document what an experience it was for me.

Seeing people who had to leave their families behind for their own safety is an extremely moving thing. I wish I had a better word than "moving," but it's the best word to describe how, for the first time in my life, I feel like I actually want to help people. And I'm sure you would think that wanting to be a doctor would imply my desire to help but then I would say you must not know me very well. In all sincerity, I really hope to start volunteering with them, particularly in the citizenship class.

Taken from the ILC Wordpress website

My adorable Ama (mom's mother) became a citizen in the past decade and I remember helping her with her exam. It's crazy how much these wannabe-citizens have to learn. And if I could pay it forward at all, I would be ever so glad.

I want someone, anyone of you, to check in with me before Christmas to see if I've actually made steps to become a volunteer. I would hate to be so moved by an experience to just have that movement fall to the wayside because I couldn't follow through. Especially since I believe it would be such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. And I have to say, even if with all the cheeseburgers I eat, this would be an all new kind of full.