My name is Savannah Soter and I am a first year undergrad planning to double major in International Relations and Arab World Studies. I’m very interested in National Security as well as Human Rights, and so it is of no surprise that I’m very passionate about the current refugee crisis. Earlier this year I participated in a protest outside the White House to show support for Syrian refugees, and since then I have been looking for a way to become more involved in supporting the local refugee community. Through CSLP I’ve found the opportunity to volunteer at Mary House, an organization in Northeast D.C. that provides aid to the local refugee community through transitional housing, as well as support programs for refugee children. In addition to volunteering, my goal is to learn as much as possible about the local refugee community.
I will be connecting my service learning to my Cross-Cultural Communications course, for which I have to craft an independent project to study a particular culture in Washington D.C. I think that the current debate over refugees is a direct result of a lack of education and understanding on the issue. The best way I can help is to learn as much as possible and then relay my experience to others so they can continue the conversation. Therefore, I’m very excited to be working with Mary House this semester to help the local refugee community in any means necessary, as well as learn about their struggles, triumphs, and culture as much as possible.
So far I have been getting to know the twenty-some kids who come to Mary House everyday after school until their parents pick them up around 6 pm. They range in age from kindergartners to fifth graders. We play games together, talk about their school day, and work on homework. Essentially I am there to help dish out popcorn, clean up crafts, and be a friend. Over the next few weeks I am going to be partnering up with one of the older students who just arrived in D.C. a few months ago after fleeing Honduras. I’m excited to get to know her and help with her English reading skills as well as just being there as a friend.