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Tips for Immigrants Who Want to Get Involved in their New Community

Immigrants who are still settling in may be looking for new ways to connect with others during this time of transition. This could mean establishing new relationships in their new home, but it could also mean finding opportunities to stay in better contact with loved ones in their country of origin. Making and preserving these social bonds can be important for one’s overall well-being, and a good way to stay positive.

Empowering conversationZ shares some suggestions for immigrants looking for volunteer opportunities in their communities, as well as ideas for staying in touch back home.

Volunteer with cultural, historical, or arts organizations.

Getting involved with cultural, historical, and arts organizations is an excellent way for you to make new friends in a positive and inspiring atmosphere, while also serving your community. Look for museums near you where your interests might be a good fit and find out if they have volunteer programs. There will probably be some training involved, but the training itself is likely to be enriching – as will the whole volunteer experience. Getting the whole family involved in volunteer work at a museum gives you all a chance both to serve and to be inspired.

See whether there are volunteer opportunities at area schools.

If your child or children are enrolled in a local school, the San Francisco Education Fund points out that you can get involved also as a volunteer. Some ways you can help your schools, and the young people attending them, include tutoring, being a classroom helper, assisting as a chaperone, or offering extra support for students with special needs. Don’t be surprised if the school asks to do a background check: this is routine policy, for all volunteers, to ensure a safe environment for children and young adults. You can do your own research as well using GreatSchools, which, where available, provides ratings based on school quality.

Serve in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

You can help your community by helping those in it who are least fortunate and often invisible. At a soup kitchen, Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen notes that those who are homeless can access good food in a zero-judgment environment. Helping prepare or serve the food, or with cleanup, is a great opportunity to make a real material difference in someone’s life. You will also meet other volunteers there who share your values of service to the community and giving back.

Organize community service projects.

If there are individuals or organizations in your community that could use some help, see what you can do to support them. This could mean helping individuals who have suffered loss, doing free repair work on community centers, or arranging neighborhood cleanup days. You could even do a donation drive to help provide basic services for those in need who can’t otherwise afford such things as home and auto repair, house cleaning, or lawn maintenance.

How to keep your ties strong with loved ones back home.

Make sure your loved ones back home have good devices for digital communication, since this is likely the primary way you will stay in touch with them from afar. Opportunities to communicate using tech include email, text messaging, apps like Slack, and video messaging, so you can stay looped in with your loved ones throughout the day, even if you can’t be with them in person. Also, with the holidays approaching, consider putting together care packages to send home to them. You could even organize a holiday gift exchange between your family and theirs.

Keeping in contact with friends and loved ones in your country of origin is important because it can help you keep a sense of stability and identity, even while you find opportunities to serve the community you now live in. Over time you will begin to put down new roots and begin to make yourself at home, while still treasuring your relationships with those further away.

Empowering conversationZ is the brainchild of personal and career coach Mehran Sorourian, who provides the culturally different and minorities with quality coaching that supports their growth in their career. Connect with Mehran today for more info!


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