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Jewish Vocational Services

Posted on 06/25/2014 @ 08:00 PM

For the past few days I have been doing community service at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). JVS is an incredible organization that provides services to refugees. We are working with two English classes. At first, I was nervous that I would not be able to communicate with the refugees. I found out that I was completely wrong about that. As soon as I was partnered with Stacy* a woman from Ethiopia, we started having a great conversation. I learned that she speaks Amharit as well as some Arabic and Italian, and she taught me about how Eritrea broke apart from Ethiopia while she was living there. Stacy was very interesting and friendly.

What really amazes me about JVS is its devotion to helping the refugees become self-reliant in a new, strange country. The classes teach not only English, but also life skills and skills for the workplace. Refugees have only eight months from the time they land in American to get a job. Without the help of JVS, the refugees would probably have no idea what to do. I know I would be very scared and confused if I was alone in a country where I didn’t even speak the language. JVS really cares about helping the refugees succeed.

While incredibly impressed by the work of JVS, I’m even more amazed by the refugees themselves. Despite the confusion and vulnerability I imagine they are feeling, each of them is obviously very curious and eager to learn. They come to class wanting to know more so they can achieve success in this country. It’s really given me a new perspective on how to approach life. Although I am the one teaching them English, they are teaching me too. I can’t wait to continue volunteering with them.

By Rachel Brill, South Jersey Region

*Name changed to protect the identity of the JVS student.

BBYO International Office
800 Eighth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
P: 202.857.6633 / F: 202.857.6568

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