Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS)
❖ Hours per week needed: 2-3 hours per week, for a minimum of three months
❖ Schedule: Flexible
❖ Requirements: Previous experience communicating with (and preferably tutoring or mentoring) people with limited English; flexibility, creativity, and patience; cultural humility and curiosity to learn and share culture with your companion; empathy and sensitivity with regard to difficulties immigrant companions may be facing, with an orientation towards supporting their resilience.
❖ Duties: The volunteer is paired with an immigrant adult of the same gender expression in a one-on-one match for the purpose of English practice and to be "cultural companions" focused on sharing culture, exploring the community, and building a friendship. Volunteers will most importantly serve as friends but also as English learning partners. Volunteers will likely be paired with an immigrant companion who speaks very little English and will need to build rapport through doing activities together, while engaging in experiential learning. If you prefer to be matched with someone with an intermediate or higher level of English, consider applying for the Adult English Language Tutor position, to help clients develop skills they need to improve their employability.
❖ Meeting mode: We’re looking for volunteers who are willing to meet in person, masked, and at a distance, outdoors or in large indoor community spaces (like libraries). We'll likely do the introductory sessions outside somewhere near the immigrant companion's home, and then you and the client would need to be prepared to arrange to meet outdoors or in larger indoor public spaces where you can be socially distant.
For now, we're not asking volunteers to meet in clients' homes until we receive more guidance from the state.
❖ Support: IRIS will provide an extensive list of suggested activities and experiential learning opportunities, but volunteers will still be responsible for planning sessions with their partners based on both members’ interests and learning goals.
About Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS)
235 Nicoll Street, 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06511, US
The mission of IRIS is to enable refugees and other displaced people to establish new lives, regain hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities.
In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. government invited 97,263 refugees from all over the world to come to this country. Over 900 came to Connecticut, where they were placed with one of three refugee agencies, including IRIS, which welcomed 475. Their needs are significant and IRIS is their primary resource as they begin to rebuild their lives after years of persecution and displacement. IRIS helps refugees on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during their transition to life in the United States
IRIS provides a wide array of services to these new Americans including daily English lessons, education and youth programs, access to health care and a thorough multi-day cultural orientation. IRIS also works intensively with each new arrival to begin the important work of finding employment. IRIS attempts to meet all of the needs of its clients by providing extra services including a women’s group and a variety of young people’s groups. And if family members have been left behind, our legal office will work to reunite them.