During one of our reflections Sam, one of our leaders, said "I love how you can get lost in your own city and still feel at home." The past couple of days, we have experienced a whole new part of Manchester that we never knew before.
Our week started off on Saturday afternoon, moving into Trinity High School's conference room. We spent our afternoon and evening settling in & bonding, followed by a movie, The Good Lie. The movie helped to give us a visual of the journey that refugees go through before, during and after their arrival to their new country.
Sunday we had our off day, and regardless of the rain, we went tubing at Pat's Peak! Needless to say, we were the only people there! That night we went to a Vietnamese Mass which was beautiful. The fact that Catholicism is universal, regardless of language and culture, resonated with us all.
Monday, we had a special guest. Sue joined us to do a simulation of walking in the shoes of a refugee. This helped prepare us for our first day at the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH). We were welcomed by Anna, the Americorps member at IINH. Our day was filled with in-office work in the institute: organizing closets, filing and shredding papers. After being at IINH, some of us went to volunteer at a fundraiser and others went to Elmwood Gardens to help elementary school students with homework. That night we got our exercise on and went to the Manchester YMCA.
Tuesday, we split up and some people went to volunteer in ESL classes at Hillside Middle School and Mclaughlin Middle School, while the rest of us stayed at IINH. Those at the schools learned first hand of the need that Manchester has for help in their ESL classroom. Those of us at IINH spent the day preparing an apartment for a family who arrived from Burundi on Wednesday. In addition, those at IINH played and spent time with eight children ages 2-22 while their parents filled out paperwork. The children taught us different games they liked to play. In the evening we all joined back together and volunteered at Elmwood Gardens.
Wednesday was a jam packed day! In the morning, we went on a field trip with the ESL class at IINH to the Manchester Millyard Museum. We learned so very much about the city we call home. Did you know that the reason all the streets are named after trees is because lumber was so important to the mills?! Then, we split into two groups. Some went to McLaughlin Middle School and worked in an ESL classroom and others stayed at IINH.
At McLaughlin, members of our group aided in a math and science class for ELL students. At IINH, we ran various errands for the clients: helping to grocery shop, get necessities at Wal Mart and visiting clients in their homes. We were thrilled to have alumna Lisa Carey join us for dinner! She shared with us her experience at City Year thus far!
Wednesday night we welcomed a family of three at the airport (photo above) who is coming here from Burundi. We came with two posters, anxiously awaiting their arrival. Upon their arrival, they immediately asked for pictures with us calling us family. It warmed our hearts. We are excited for the remainder of the week & that even after the trip ends we can make trips to IINH, Hillside, McLaughlin and Elmwood Gardens.