“Be Positive” was a key takeaway for several Seattle Workshop attendees. I worry that we are more often focused on “problems” and “deficiencies” than on all of the strengths and contributions refugees make in their work lives and communities.
New Arrivals Already Giving Back to Others: We learned from Tanya Dumont, Lutheran Social Services of New England (LSSNE) about a $1,000 donation that Burmese Rohingya women employess of social enterprise A Woven Thread made to Action Against Hunger with a percentage of sales proceeds. They said that, in their experience, you could live without shelter, but nothing is worse than not being able to feed your family.
Learning to Appreciate Their Own Transferable Skills: We talked about building client confidence in the job-market value of their experiences. That can be reinforced at many points during our work with clients: in the employability assessment process, in job readiness class or other short term training and when helping clients develop a resume. Many of our clients navigated safe passage for themselves and their families, develoing very marketable communication and problem solving skills along the way.
Employment Professionals from a Refugee Background: We also learned from 15 colleagues who come from a refugee background themselves. They are giving back to new arrivals and adding strength to the refugee employment network as Employment Professionals.
Renewed appreciation for what I’ve learned from former refugees in this work is MY key takeaway from Seattle.
(Look for a series of posts over the next couple of weeks sharing highlights and key takeaways from Higher’s March 3-4 Employment Workshop in Seattle, Washington.)