IRC New York Resettlement
New York Resettlement Office | International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street, 12th Floor | New York, NY 10168 | www.theIRC.org/NewYork
None of our work would be possible without donations of from caring individuals. To
help, click here or call 212.551.0950.
Refugee Women Honor International Women’s Day
Volunteer with us! The March Job Skills Workshop
IRC New York Resettlement Open House
Imagining Great Performances
Dollars and Sense, Community and Careers
Spotlight on a New Partner: The Far Brook School
Apples, Wikipedia, and the Web
Profile of Courage: The Mesketian Turks
REFUGEE WOMEN HONOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
On Tuesday, March 8th at 6.30pm, IRC New York will host "In Our Voices: Refugee Women Honor
International Women's Day." The event will highlight the achievements and courage of refugee
women who have rebuilt their lives in New York City. Women from Sierra Leone, Burundi, and
Albania will share their stories with us, as we take part in a celebration to honor the millions of
women around the world who have found success despite great obstacles.
VOLUNTEER WITH US! THE MARCH JOB SKILLS WORKSHOP
On Tuesday, March 15th, from 6pm to 8pm, please join us for our monthly job skills workshop.
Volunteers will work one-on-one with refugees, helping them write resumes and cover letters,
answer common interview questions, and brainstorm plans for finding jobs. Volunteers receive
training materials prior to the workshop and support from staff and experienced volunteers
throughout the two-hour session.
IRC NEW YORK RESETTLEMENT OPEN HOUSE
On Monday, April 4th at 6pm, please join us to discuss IRC New York, our programs, and ways you
can volunteer to assist refugees. Learn about volunteering in job skills workshops and our summer
school readiness program, hosting groups of youth at your workplace, and organizing donations
drives and speaking events. Recent clients will share their resettlement experiences and answer
questions from audience members.
To RSVP for any of these events, please reply to this email or call 212.551.0950.
Last year, the IRC resettled 324 refugees from 22 countries. The majority came from Cuba (30%),
Liberia (20%), and Sierra Leone (18%). We also resettled refugees from East Africa, Southeast Asia,
and Eastern Europe. In 2005, IRC New York will resettle up to 400 refugees. More than 200 of
these refugees will be Cuban, and they will join the thousands of Cuban refugees currently living in
Union County, New Jersey. We will continue to resettle Sierra Leoneans who are residing in Ghana,
Liberians who are residing in Guinea and Ivory Coast, and Togolese, Congolese, and Sudanese
refugees. We may also resettle Vietnamese refugees who have been residing in the Philippines, as
well as some Burmese and Mesketian Turkish refugees. Nationally, the IRC will resettle
approximately 5,800 of the 50,000 refugees scheduled to arrive in the US – or 13% of all refugees
who resettle in the US. (IRC is the third largest refugee resettlement agency in the country and the
largest non-secular resettlement agency.)
IMAGINING GREAT PERFORMANCES
On Friday, February 18, refugee youth visited the East Village’s Performance Space 122 to learn
about careers in show business. At one point, to demonstrate how microphones work, some of the
lucky youth got to get on stage themselves. When “Charlene,” a 14 year old refugee youth from Sierra
Leone, volunteered to sing for the group, some of us were very surprised at how her voice projected!
Twelve year old “Georgia,” a youth program participant who lives in Brooklyn, thought the trip was
one of the Imagine Series’ best. “It was great to be taught so much about acting. I learned about the
camera, the microphone, and about acting in New York. I recommend that anyone who wants to get
involved with acting should go there,” she said. (Georgia is herself an aspiring actress. Early last
month, in preparation for the trip to PS 122, Georgia attended an open workshop with Dzieci, a
theater group with which IRC New York partners. After the workshop, Dzieci’s Matt Mitler invited
Georgia to join the group!)
DOLLARS AND SENSE, COMMUNITY AND CAREERS
Starting Saturday, March 5, refugee youth will pilot Dollars and Sense: How to be Smart with Your
Money. Over ten weeks, students will learn about the history of the greenback, basic principals of
economics, and setting financial goals. We’ll learn about making money during time away from
school, starting up small businesses, and finding out if the IRS owes us money. At the end of the
workshop, students will open free bank accounts at a local bank. Dollars and Sense will be lead by
volunteer Jamila Williams, an associate in the Loan Products Group at Morgan Stanley.
“We all work hard for our money, but, with inflation and public policy changes, we must learn to
work smarter, not harder. I am a firm believer that if you can be smart with money when you have a
little, you will become an expert,” said Ms. Williams.
As part of the series, some students will also participate in a service learning and leadership class.
They will talk about social issues that matter to them and design their own service-learning projects,
in preparation for National Youth Service Day on April 16. In the afternoons, guest speakers will
lead workshops to provide youth with information about career and educational opportunities
available to them.
If you would like to lead a workshop about your career path or community involvement with refugee
youth, contact Kate Macom at 212.551.2749.
SPOTLIGHT ON A NEW PARTNER: THE FAR BROOK SCHOOL
IRC New York works with many schools in the tri-state area to fulfill IRC’s mission of advocating for
those affected by violent conflict and oppression. The partnerships also provide refugees with
friendships and support. Our newest school partner is the Far Brook School in Short Hills, New
Jersey, a day school for students from nursery through eighth grade. Through the collaboration,
clients from IRC and volunteers from Short Hills will meet in and around their towns, teaching each
other about their cultures and exploring New Jersey.
Last month, students and parents from the Far Brook School hosted ten refugee families living in
Elizabeth, New Jersey to come to Short Hills for an afternoon of art, soccer, and food. Among the
families that participated were the “Castillos,” who have been living in Elizabeth, New Jersey since
November 14, 2004. The Castillos arrived at the meeting place for the excursion an hour early, and,
throughout the van ride to Short Hills, they were full of questions about the sites and scenery that
they passed by. Elza, the Castillo’s eldest daughter, was especially excited. A talented singer, she
wants to go to college and to find a venue where she can sing meringue, salsa, and jazz. When asked
about her hopes for the future by one of the volunteers, Elza’s eyes shined. She answered quickly: A
aprender ingles. Once she learns English, she explained that she would like to audition for acting
parts, help other Cuban women to get used to life in New Jersey, and watch American television.
At Far Brook, the youth created vases to chronicle their journeys to the U.S. They juxtaposed maps,
photographs, and other images reminiscent of their home countries alongside images from New
Jersey. Then, the youth made flowers, filling the vases with flowers in the colors of their home
countries. The vases were used as the centerpieces at the seventh Annual Voices for Children
Luncheon, which was held on Tuesday March 1, 2005 to raise support for the IRC’s children’s
programs around the world.
After completing the art project, the youth enjoyed an energetic game of soccer and enjoyed lunch
together. We all look forward to sharing another afternoon together soon!
APPLES, WIKIPEDIA, AND THE WEB
In January, IRC Afterschool at the International High School at Prospect Heights coordinator John
Kowalski began teaching an elective computer class for 25 students from over 15 different countries.
“It didn't take long for the students to start applying their newfound search skills – in no time, they
were finding music from each of their home countries. And it didn't take long after that for them to
learn to play it at a very soft volume, so as not to drive their teacher crazy,” laughed Mr. Kowalski.
Between now and June, these students will use laptops to do everything from search the web to
create spreadsheets to use html language.
“So far, the classroom activities have involved learning specialized ways of retrieving information
from the web – like Google’s Wikipedia feature,” Mr. Kowalski said. “We will soon study tools for
presenting that information, using visual display tools like Powerpoint, Excel, and the web.”
The International School @ Prospect Heights opened in September 2004 to serve recent immigrants
who are both new to the U.S. and to learning English. IRC New York’s afterschool program is
currently the only afterschool program offered at the high school.
PROFILE OF COURAGE: THE MESKIETIAN TURKS
In 1944, the Mesketian Turks were deported en masse from Mesketia (today a region of the Georgian
Republic) to Soviet Central Asia. In the late 1980s, when ethnic tension erupted, they were forced to
flee Central Asia. Most went to Krasnodar, Russia, where they were treated as illegal migrants. A
large majority of this vulnerable population have been living in Eastern Europe since. Now, unable
to live a normal life in Russia or return to their homeland, 15,000 Mesketian Turks have been
accepted for U.S. resettlement. IRC New York will be one of the agencies resettling Mesketian Turks.
In preparation for their resettlement, Leyla Dursunova and IRC New York intern Eryka Peskin will
lead a training for IRC staff on issues affecting Mesketian Turk populations and their resettlement.
Ms. Dursunova is a caseworker in Philadelphia for Nationalities Service Center, where she assists
newly arrived Mesketian Turks. We look forward to welcoming this new group of refugees this
None of our work would be possible without donations of money, goods, services,
and time from caring individuals. To make a tax-deductible donation to IRC New
York, click here or call 212.551.0950. Additional information about volunteering,
hiring refugees, and making donations of clothing, books, or other resources is
available at www.theIRC.org/NewYork.
The IRC continues to respond with life-saving emergency relief for tsunami and earthquake
survivors in the Aceh province of Indonesia. To learn more, please visit www.theIRC.org.