Monday and Wednesday marked my final cultural orientation teaching days. The cultural group was Somali and they were all very attentive and engaged in the material and asked good, thoughtful questions. CRIS hired a full time cultural orientation instructor who started this week. Her name is Breanne and she observed my teaching at the cultural orientation to get a feel for what the classes and information are like. This was the first time I have trained someone for a position who was much older than me which I thought would be difficult, but Breanne is very relaxed, attentive, and respects my opinion and my experience as a teacher despite my younger age. She even joked how I got this gig as a Summer Fellow with 3/4’s of a Bachelors degree completed while she has masters in teaching English as a second language.
Wednesday was a surreal in the sense that I personally witnessed the emotional baggage of one of our clients. While Brienne and I were waiting for a case worker to bring the remaining clients to cultural orientation, we sat around with some of the students and talked about Somalia and the Somali language. I pulled out my work computer and was searching a map of Somalia and various pictures of what the capital Mogadishu looked like before the civil war. The students were all pointing at the different areas of Somalia they were from and where they grew up, laughing and sharing stories about their childhoods their. I then pulled up a picture of Siad Barre, the Somali dictator who was deposed in 1991, marking the complete destruction of the Somali government and its plunge into anarchy. An older Somali women got excited by the photo of Barre and was describing how her class had performed a song and dance for him way before the government collapsed. She began singing the song in Somali and she progressed her face became stricken with grief and she began to cry. The memory of a country’s stability and joy now long lost was painful for her. To think how good things were before the current situation and bad they are now must have hit her at that moment. It was a reality check for me that the emotional burden of fleeing one’s country takes its toll and old wounds are slow to heal, but the strength and will to survive and create a peaceful and healthy existence for one’s family is powerful enough for people to leave their home countries and start anew somewhere else. My workload is far from over with my last day approaching, but the work has not been redundant or boring, I realize each task’s importance in helping a client get a fresh start in Columbus.