Refugee Services’ newest staff member isn’t really new to Refugee Services at all! Ami Armstrong came to Refugee Services last fall as a senior Social Work intern from Bethel University. Originally, Ami was interested in working as a school social worker, but when an intern opportunity for her senior year wasn’t coming together, she decided to try out a placement with MCC Refugee Services. She came in with very little experience working with refugees, but loved the experience so much that she wasn’t ready to leave when her internship ended. She stayed on through the summer as a volunteer intern and we are thrilled that she will now be able to join our team as a staff member, continuing to help individuals in our employment services program.
Originally from Pella, Iowa (Vermeer farm equipment and Pella Windows made this small town famous), Ami came to Minnesota to attend Bethel University. She shared that she is one of five children in her family and she was adopted from India. Three of her siblings were also adopted.
During her internship at Refugee Services, Ami supported the employment team, working primarily with Brittany and her job-seeking clients. On a day to day basis, this involves activities like helping people fill out applications, contact employers, attend interviews, and access professional clothing resources. As Brittany reduces her hours this fall to return to school for a Masters in Social Work degree, Ami will join our staff part time and share a case load with Brittany. Since Ami is also pursuing her Masters in Social Work, it’s a perfect partnership!
Ami identified working with language barriers as one of the biggest challenges in her work. She shared that it can sometimes be difficult to connect on a more genuine personal level when she needs to communicate through an interpreter. She expressed that the relationships might feel just a bit more comfortable without a language barrier.
She is motivated in her daily work by the gratitude that refugee clients express in a variety of ways. She shared about how encouraging it is to know that her help in little ways, like helping them get to an interview or buy groceries, impacts them and makes a difference in their process of adjusting to life in Minnesota. “The tiny things matter,” she shared. “It’s gratifying to be a support to someone going through the process of navigating life in a new place.”