Before my summer as a Shepherd Intern, I knew almost nothing about refugees. I didn’t know there are currently 10.4 million people seeking what is called in state department jargon “third-country resettlement.” This number grows daily as conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East, go unresolved. An initial shock for me was to learn that less than one percent of these refugees reach third country resettlement, and those who do often have been living in squalid camps for ten to twenty years, having fled their homes due to political, social, or religious persecution. I recall picking up from the airport an 87 year-old Somali woman named Udbi who, according to her family had “a bum leg,” only to learn at a doctor’s visit a few days post-arrival that her right hip had been out of its socket for at least fifteen years. The family had been living in a camp in Ethiopia.
My involvement with Community Engagement enabled me to go through this deep and invaluable learning process over the summer. I’m so grateful that Community Engagement allowed me, as a student immersed in the world of academia, to apply my interests to a practical matter, and to learn about individuals like Ubdi, and the pervasive problem of poverty in the United States.