In the refugee resettlement office at the Catholic Charities’ New York City branch this summer, Jacqueline Fisher ’18 assisted recent refugees as they navigated the bureaucratic and cultural hurdles in their search for asylum.
“Working with people who have suffered the realities of displacement and face uncertainties in a new country exposed me to global issues and a myriad of tragedy,” says Fisher. “This also was the most rewarding aspect of the internship, being able to directly work with refugees and asylum seekers and see the impact of the work that Catholic Charities does.”
Fisher worked with clients from across the globe, many hailing from Central America and West Africa, helping them with “resume writing, completing job applications, researching education opportunities, assisting with housing applications and accompanying them to federal offices.”
Fisher had been searching for experience that would combine her civil liberties and political science coursework. With the guidance of Associate Professor of Political Science Stacey Philbrick-Yadav, Fisher discovered the opportunity at Catholic Charities, which “helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams,” according to the organization’s website.
In her political science coursework, Fisher has focused primarily on developing regions, including countries in Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. “This internship helped contextualize these studies by adding a humanitarian dimension to studies of statehood and development,” she says. “While my studies in political science have given me a regional awareness of the drivers of the refugee crisis and displacement, my studies in my second major, theatre, served me incredibly well in this internship. The communication skills, organization and energy required in nonprofit administration were fostered through my study of theatre and experience stage managing.”
As one of just four interns at the New York City refugee resettlement office, Fisher developed close relationships with the refugees themselves as well as an intimate understanding of the role of the charity, which “furthered my interest in nonprofit work and my commitment to humanitarian causes,” she says. “After graduation, I hope to attend law school and this internship guided me in the direction of schools with strong international programs where I can continue my focus on the developing world.”