“We’re not here to help people to survive – they survived without us. We’re here to give them tools that will help empower them to succeed.” — Nadia Kasvin
Who is US Together?
US Together is an organization which helps refugees get the support they need in central Ohio. They treat everyone like the individual that they are, and I believe this is what helps them do such outstanding work to help refugees settle in and excel in their new surroundings.
By definition, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence and are often escaping from traumatic situations. In this podcast with Nadia Kasvin, co-founder of US Together, we explore what this means, what’s happening, and how you can help US Together make an impact.
How did Nadia come to the US?
Nadia herself was a refugee from Crimea, almost 25 years ago. But she was lucky. She knew English and didn’t have to experience displacement or survive in a refugee camp. The day after they arrived in the US, her husband had a job interview and started work the following week. This is not normal, especially today.
Today there are about 60 million people displaced around the world — more than after World War II. Of these, 25 million have reached an office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to register for refugee status. Of these 25 million, only 1% will be able to resettle in a third country through a refugee resettlement program similar to what with have in the US: one percent.
How does US Together make an impact?
Their services are broad, including:
- Cultural Orientation
- ESL classes
- Citizenship classes
- Citizenship application assistance
- Job & employment assistance through our Matching Grant Program
- Clothing and household item donations
- Interpreter Services
When speaking with Nadia, I was struck by how their services change and adapt to the individual — she stressed how everyone is unique in their situation and their capabilities. So many working at US Together have been refugees themselves, and so have a perspective on adjusting to living in a new country, learning a new culture, and rebuilding their lives after facing a traumatic situation.
“With the right support, people come in and get situated, and a couple years later, you’ll see they’re buying a house and their kids are going to college. It’s great.”
They even have a women empowerment program and helping with things we take for granted, such as financial literacy, or understanding of our education system works. They work with survivors of torture and women who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence, to get them the support they need to help as they settle into a new life.
So, how can you get involved?
- Volunteer — so many opportunities, but just talking &sharing stories helps develop new connections — and has a great impact on helping refugees adapt.
- Be a host – US Together brings professionals over from overseas for a week or longer – it’s a great way to get to know someone much better and really share a new culture.
- And stay tuned for a brand new Refugee Integration Conference later in the year!
How do you find out more?
- Website: ustogether.us
- Facebook: fb.com/USTogetherIncColumbus
- Twitter: @USTogetherCBUS
- The UN Refugee Agency: UNHCR
- 2015 US Together Report: Impact of Refugees on Central Ohio (This report is outstanding – an excellent source for understanding more about refugees in central Ohio!)