Cultural Broker
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Thrive Refugee Support Center

Cultural Broker

You’ll get to know a refugee individual or family and help them learn activities of life in America. You’ll help them practice English, make appointments, take a bus, or navigate the grocery store. One week you might be studying with them for the citizenship test and another you might be explaining “the Michigan left turn.” You’re encouraged to get to know their culture and background and develop a friendship. Bonus: your orientation will include some cultural education about your family’s home country.

You’ll help a refugee individual or family begin to navigate their new home. The things we simply know living here are often more nuanced than we realize! Think about all the “normal” activities we do that would seem a bit mysterious to someone coming to America for the first time. How would you know what counts for single-stream recycling or where and how to mail a package or how to set up your home internet or where to pick up a prescription. Or, for refugees coming from warmer climates: where to buy a snow shovel!

You’ll meet with the family once a week to check in, see how things are going, offer side-by-side support, and assess their progress towards meeting their goals. You can coordinate your schedule with the family’s schedule to find times that work best for everyone.

Show me how to get started
Commitment
One hour per week for at least 3-6 months; flexible with your schedule
Requirements
18+, but your kids are welcome to join you; pass background check
Neighborhood
Southeast Side
Location
Thrive Refugee Support Center
4150 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508 4150 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
U.S.

Is This the Right Fit for Me?

You like helping people experience and learn new things. You love the feeling of accomplishment when someone else tries out something and a lightbulb turns on! You’re understanding of cultural nuances and willing to patiently listen and learn and respect the things that make us different from one another. You like to make even the seemingly mundane things, like a trip to the post office, fun for your learners. You enjoy making people feel welcome, and you have a healthy sense of boundaries when it comes to helping others.

About Thrive Refugee Support Center

Thrive has been helping refugees in our community since 2011. The refugee support center opened in June 2016 and has been serving refugees through its Cultural Broker, Citizenship, and ESL programs. Thrive also welcomes refugees to drop in to ask questions and receive support from volunteers on site as needed.

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What Others are Saying

“I think helping a family navigate daily life has been very eye-opening and rewarding. Mostly we’re just going through mail, and I help to make things more understandable, but it’s these small interactions that can be the most difficult for people. I want the community at-large to understand that refugees are just people trying to understand and get by in the systems that we ourselves are trying to understand, with the added struggles of financial insecurity and a language barrier. They are smart, intuitive, adaptive people that just want a better and more secure life than the one they were forced to leave.”

Allison

Contact the Organization

If you’re ready to ask some questions and get started, contact the Thrive Refugee Support Center directly.

Allison Loraine Program Coordinator 616-745-8352

What to Expect

Reach out to Allison, and she’ll invite you to the next monthly orientation, which typically takes place once a month on Thursday evenings. Then you’ll fill out an application and complete a background check. The second one-hour orientation will be more intensive about what it’s like to be a refugee, the process they go through before they arrive, and what resettlement looks like. Allison will personally match you with a family or individual that needs assistance with things that complement your strengths and passions. At the first meeting with the family, Allison will come with you to make the introduction and spend time helping you get to know each other, discussing goals and needs and how you can help accomplish them.