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.