Daniella Nutile '20 volunteered with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven this summer, helping to ensure that families new to the area felt welcome and had a good start to their new life in the United States.
August 21, 2019
I interned at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven for the summer as part of the University's President Public Service Fellowship. I worked with refugees and immigrants from other countries who have just entered the United States.
I have worked very closely with our clients as we helped them apply for benefits and social security during their first days here. We then helped them learn how to use public transportation to get to important places, such as the IRIS office, the grocery store, the laundromat, and the bank. We took them to Goodwill if they needed anything, and we helped them get the appropriate clothes for the season, since many come to the United States with nothing.
"This is one of the most rewarding experiences I could ever have, and I am happy to be able to help these people integrate themselves into the community."Daniella Nutile '20
Throughout my internship, I have come in contact with refugees who have come to this country looking for a better life because of persecution and war in their own countries.
Every family I have met is different. Some people can speak and understand English, while others do not know any of the language. This can sometimes be difficult, and I try my hardest to communicate without having to resort to Google Translate, but sometimes I need it for more complex instructions and explanations.
I have also met some great citizens of New Haven who have taken an interest IRIS because they see us interacting with refugees and immigrants. Some of them have thanked us for the work that we do. My work is extremely rewarding because we are often the first people who immigrants and refugees come into contact with after they leave the airport in New York. We help set the tone for how they expect to be treated by other Americans.
After only a short time, I have seen drastic improvements and changes in the families I have met. This is one of the most rewarding experiences I could ever have, and I am happy to be able to help these people integrate themselves into the community.
The President's Public Service Fellowship places University of New Haven students in a nonprofit or public service work environment for eleven weeks during the summer.