Kristen Morris heard about World Relief during her time at Rhodes College. As a member of their City Link program, she volunteered in the Memphis community during three years of her college career. Her first year was spent in an elementary school, but after exploring her international studies major further, she wanted to shift her volunteer focus to connect more closely with her studies. Through her major, she developed an interest in immigration and wanted to get to know immigrants in her new community. This desire made World Relief a great fit for her. The program put her in touch with World Relief Memphis, and she volunteered here for six semesters, until her graduation in May 2020.
One of the things that stood out to her the most about her experience at World Relief was the collaborative nature of the nonprofit sector, both between organizations and with local churches. One of her classes had discussed the large number of nonprofits in Memphis and their collaboration with one another. She was able to see that collaboration first hand with World Relief’s connections to organizations such as Christ Community Health. She also enjoyed seeing the collaboration between churches of different denominations who all agree that they are called to work with immigrants and welcome them to the Memphis community.
Kristen spent her time at World Relief in the Employment and Casework departments. Through this work she interacted with program participants on a daily basis, through home visits and providing support at appointments. By her final semester of the internship, she had become the intern in charge of the Friends of Trezevant English Program. This program connects participants in the Refugee Elders program with residents of a local retirement community. The goal is fostering community and further developing English language abilities among the Elders. She was surprised and impressed by the willingness of the retirement community residents to give of their time and energy to their foreign-born contemporaries. And these relationships were important to her, too. She got to know the Elders participants through driving them to the class, and she even spent time outside of the internship at the retirement home with those she had met through the class.
Kristen credits World Relief for helping her develop professional skills, such as confidence, creative problem solving, and resilience. On her very first day of the internship, she was surprised at how much freedom she was given in accomplishing her assignments. But once she recovered from this initial surprise, she came to appreciate the freedom and the confidence it gave her. And when she made mistakes? They only helped her learn about herself and the graciousness of her refugee neighbors. Both the technical experience with refugees and the confidence she gained during her first two semesters as an intern set her up for successful adaptation of her skills for a program in Morocco in the summer of 2018. She was grateful for already having cross cultural experience, as she lived with a host family and worked in a very different culture from the one she was raised in. Ultimately, Kristen hopes to use all of this experience in her career, either in peace and development or in conflict resolution. We are grateful for her work with us and excited to see how she uses her skills in the future!
By Sarah Barnett, Mobilization Intern
Learn more about becoming an academic or summer intern with World Relief Memphis like Kristen and Sarah! Visit HERE for more information and to submit your application.