Designing an Introduction
Research / Strategy / Design
International Rescue Committee
Refugee resettlement agencies are responsible for providing programs, services, and basic education to ensure all refugees receive the right tools to make a steady transition to a new country. However, the range of needs and pace of learning varies from refugee to refugee. While most are able to find a balance of self-reliance and comfort by the end of their life cycles with these agencies, there are others that need extra help.
I partnered with International Rescue Committee in Baltimore to research and design a pilot program that addresses the needs of refugees nearing the end of their assistance programs.
I started with interviewing and talking to IRC staff, caseworkers, and a group of refugees to gather insights on their organizational process, pain points, and experiences. From my research, we uncovered overlapping topics between caseworkers and refugees that needed to be addressed in the pilot program. Those included:
Basic financial literacy
The interviews also revealed an underlying issue of feeling alienation between refugees and their surrounding communities, or discouragement from their seemingly slow progress to acculturate. From these responses, we included space in the curriculum for refugees to reflect, relate, and encourage one another. We scheduled field trips to different areas of the city to introduce new sites for them to explore, and held discussions on what local community integration could look like for them.
We gained an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from our first group of attendees. Many thanked us for the opportunity to learn and wished the program lasted longer.
We feel that we are part of this (Baltimore) community now. The only thing is language, language is difficult.
A refugee sharing about their role in the Baltimore community in response to the community integration segment of the curriculum.
Thank you for coming to teach us. Everything we learn here is valuable. If you did not tell me, I would not know.