Name: Dounya Ramadan
Class Year: 2022
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Hockessin, Del.
Internship Organization: Nationalities Service Center (NSC)
Job Title: Refugee Resettlement/Pathways to Permanency intern
Endowed Internship Funding Award: Goldberg Internship Fund
Location: Philadelphia (remote)
What’s happening at your internship?
This summer I had the opportunity to work remotely for Nationalities Service Center (NSC) as a Refugee Resettlement/Pathways to Permanency intern. NSC is an organization that provides comprehensive services to refugees and immigrants which assist them in achieving self-sufficiency as they settle into the U.S. As a refugee resettlement intern this summer, I had the opportunity to welcome and help ease newly arrived refugees into their new environment. I would work on helping newly arrived refugees obtain their Social Security cards and welfare benefits, teach virtual ESL classes to individual newly arrived clients, and translate cultural orientation material into Arabic to help equip clients with the information they need to navigate their new environment.
As a Pathways to Permanency intern (NSC’s green card program), I would reach out to clients, with interpreters if needed, to help them through the process of applying for their green cards after one year of residence in the U.S. as a refugee or asylee. Throughout the summer, I would refer clients to clinics to get their vaccines and passport photos taken, schedule their medical and legal appointments, and and do the same for request for evidence cases. I was able to also act as a liaison between clients and lawyers so clients can receive their green cards efficiently, and was present to answer any of our clients’ green card related inquiries and concerns as well. Amidst all of my work with clients, I had the opportunity to write grants for the Pathways to Permanency program in order to keep it running. Overall, a lot has been happening at my internship, especially with COVID-19 and the constant cruelty and hostility directed toward our clients from this current administration.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because I have always been advocating for immigrant rights and I wanted to continue dedicating all of my time and energy to advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants, and victims of trafficking. Immigration issues have always been and will always be of utmost importance to me. With this in mind, I chose to be a political science major to understand and evaluate the unjust immigration systems we have in place today. More than 79 million people have been displaced across the world and even more will continue to be displaced because of the consequences of climate change and the increase in violence around the world. When I found out NSC was accepting interns, I didn’t hesitate to apply this past spring as a community-based work study student, and again this summer as one of Bryn Mawr’s Arthur Liman Fellows pursuing a public interest internship. I thought applying for this internship at NSC would also give me a deeper look into the world of legalities—a realm I wish to enter after College so I can study immigration law to become an even better legal advocate.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
I have learned many things from my internship that I didn’t expect. I had to become an expert in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and housing laws in Pennsylvania to help current and former clients apply for PUA and rental assistance under the CARES Act. I never knew I would have to become an expert in these constantly changing policies overnight. I learned how to translate and record a tenant’s rights PSA for NSC in Arabic for Arabic-speaking clients. I took on figuring out legal issues surrounding rent and eviction with individual clients and making sure they knew their rights. Moreover, I learned about the obstacles put in place targeting those with certain immigration statuses throughout the green-card process. I also learned how to become an ESL teacher overnight to support clients over the summer. These unexpected learning curves have only improved my skills in every way possible.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
What is most rewarding about my internship is the fact that at such a tumultuous time in the world with COVID-19, an economic crisis, cruel anti-immigrant rhetoric, and political and legal actions, I was able to be there for my clients in every possible way. I was able to form such strong relationships with my clients and colleagues to take on the rocks being thrown at us. We are facing trying times, and the communities NSC serves are some of the most vulnerable communities in this crisis. We never anticipated navigating a crisis as big as this. Therefore, as my organization scrambled to figure out how to keep supporting clients greater than ever before, I offered up everything I knew and every skill I had as an intern to help in every way possible day and night.
Visit the Summer 2020 Internships page to read more student stories.