Do's & don'ts of refugee resettlement
Do remember that refugees ...
... are human, with idiosyncracies like the rest of us!
... are trying to understand their new culture and establish their identity in it.
... are confused and surprised by what they find in the United States. It is never what they expected. Some "surprises" are negative to them. They are not comfortable with many "things."
... were brought up in another culture. Even if they look just like us, they have many "givens" in their thinking. Many of their beliefs and ideas will conflict with the way we have been brought up to think..
... will not understand the significance of what you are doing for them. Many, coming from Socialist countries, will assume that the government is doing it all. Therefore, they will not know the impact that some of their decisions may have on you. They may not be able to "internalize" these things right away, even if you explain it to them.
... need security. The best ways to provide security are:
1. Constant communication about what you are planning for them (and be sure to follow through).
2. Providing work opportunities within the first two weeks for at least one family member.
3. Spending time listening to them talk about their country, their culture and their personal losses (such as the people they left behind).
... confuse idiosyncracies with cultural differences.
... forget that the refugee adults are adults, not children. Don't smother them or try to possess them. They have been making their own decisions for many years.
... try to shield them from the realities that they must fact. Help them by sharing how you handle different aspects of living in the United States.
... keep the refugee dependent on you. Remember your goal is to assist them in becoming self sufficient.
... speak loudly. Refugees will not understand more clearly or better if you increase your volume when talking with them.
... fall into the trap of giving as a form of self-gratification.
... lose your sense of Christian Mission. Keep focused on assisting the refugee to become independent.
... let the refugee's frustrations with the changes they are experiencing keep you from providing "reality therapy" when it is necessary. There will be misunderstandings. You will not always "feel" good. Aim for mutual respect.