What do you like about your job?
I have a lot of things I like about my job. My job is not just about getting a paycheck but I do it because I like supporting people. I like helping people to get resettled in America and start living a better life. I also like meeting a lot of different people of many different cultures. It is critical for me in my work to get to understand other cultures because I cannot help my clients if I do not know what is important to them.
What are some goals you work on with your clients in their first 90 Days?
The government provides direction for us for goals the first 90 days through the R&P service guide. We also work with the client to help them to accomplish their goals for the first 90 days. The most important goals we focus on are employment, permanent housing, applying for benefits and insurance, doctor’s visits, enrolling children in school, ESL classes for adults, learning how to use public transportation or learning how to drive a car, and getting important documents such as social security.
What do you think are important strengths for a caseworker?
Two strengths that are important for caseworkers are being timely with your work and treating everyone fairly. It’s important to be timely with your work because most tasks must be completed by a certain deadline. Treating people in the way that you would like to be treated is important so that all clients are treated in the same way.
What does an average day look like?
It depends on the day, but most of the days I am busy. A lot of times I call my clients to check in on them about their job or about how their kids are doing in school. Clients call me a lot with many questions at all times of the day. I also do a lot of home visits to take clients to appointments and check in on them. I take clients to the dentist, to get their RCA-refugee cash assistance, and to go to the store. A lot of days my plans change because I have to respond to my clients’ needs.
What is challenging about your job?
Working with people from different backgrounds is challenging because they have different expectations. People expect that I will do a lot for them when I work with many clients so I cannot always do as much as they would like. The clients I work with come from many different cultures and many have experienced trauma, both of these things influence their expectations for life in the U.S. It’s also hard when people speak different languages, but that is usually that is not a challenge because I speak 9 different languages.
What is something that encourages you in your work?
I find a lot of encouragement in my coworkers because I am still learning a lot about being a caseworker. My coworker, Marlo, is so helpful. She’s always willing to stop what she’s doing to help me when I have a question. My teammates don’t pressure in my job but they are willing to encourage and teach me.
How do you think your story impacts your work?
Because I have lived in a refugee camp I can understand what it’s like to come to the US and live in a country that is so different from one’s own. There are a lot of surprises when you arrive to the U.S. It takes time understand life here and I can help and encourage my clients from my own experience.
What is one thing you wish people knew about refugees?
To understand how challenging it is for refugees to learn life in the U.S. Often people expect refugees to respond to life here in a certain way, but for refugees life in the US is brand new. For many people life here is so different than what they are used to; it’s like they are starting their lives all over again.