Refugee Resettlement Experience

My name is Phoebe Neuburger and I am a Global Studies student in my senior year at Whittier College in Los Angeles. Over the summer I was able to do an internship in adult education and refugee resettlement at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. This blog is the second in a short series of blogs that describes what I did and what I learned and how it all felt!

It was a privilege to spend part of my internship in Refugee Resettlement Services. Jan Ali and his wife Nikbakht arrived from Afghanistan with their 2 young daughters and their young son.  Soon after helping to set up their new apartment, I was invited to welcome them to the U.S. at Sacramento International Airport.

 In their new apartment I learned how to assemble bed railings. I helped in the set up effort by moving around large pieces of furniture, cleaning up the living room, and organizing the food pantry and fridge.  They seem like simple and sometimes frustrating everyday tasks but I learned the family would probably have been traveling for days and arrive exhausted and hungry. I wanted their new home to feel comfortable and cozy. I learned that a lot of things in (and outside of) their Sacramento home might feel new and strange. Things like electrical outlets, bus schedules and ice cube trays might require brief explanations. I checked the bathroom cupboards to make sure they had toothpaste and toilet paper and I learned that not every region in the world has access to these items.

New apartment for refugee family

New apartment for refugee family

 My father and I volunteered to help welcome Jan Ali and Nikbakht and their three children at Sacramento Airport. I enjoyed making welcome signs for the kids and the reward was a smile I saw on a tired little face. It was powerful to see a refugee family, still together and in one piece, arrive in the U.S. I learned that they had to leave everything behind in Afghanistan if they wanted to start a new and better life in the U.S.   I learned that for love of their family, this is what they maybe wanted most.     

Submitted Phoebe Neuburger, SFBFS intern