ACU for the International Rescue Committee, a student group, is looking to give students a first-hand experience in international relations without leaving the country. The club organizes four events a year to help refugee children adapt to American culture.
“It’s such a unique experience in Abilene, especially for international studies or political science majors, to interact with people who not only have been in crisis but are now and need our help,” said Sara Shoultz, ACU for IRC vice president and junior biochemistry major from Waco.
International Rescue Committee works to resettle refugees from across the world to sites in the U.S. after a humanitarian crisis. The organization has two sites in Texas located in Dallas and in Abilene.
“Abilene was chosen because it has universities here and … relatively high standards of living for as many entry-level jobs as there are and its affordability,” Shoultz said.
ACU for IRC members also assist the IRC in providing transitional services for refugee families. Students help mentor the family after their resettlement and adjustment to American culture.
“The program pairs students up with a family. It can be a little bit of ESL if the student has language skills but it is also just sitting and talking with the mother and her children in the day while dad is at work,” Shoultz said.
Amanda Swan, IRC intern and senior social work major from Winnipeg, Manitoba said IRC had huge needs but few staff members.
“There’s always more needs than we’re able to meet,” Swan said. “So through community members we are able to meet way more of those needs.”
Student involvement in the IRC provides community support for refugees while settling into a new country and learning a new language.
“We’re so busy at the IRC office trying to give them their immediate core services like orientation, job services and applications that we don’t have enough time to help them with acculturation,” Swan said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with ACU for IRC can contact Shoultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.