MAIS Internship Spotlight: Andrew Chen (’16)

headshot1. Where did you conduct your internship and why did you choose this opportunity?
I was a resettlement intern at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). I chose to go there per the suggestion of one of my professors. I knew that I wanted to write my thesis on migration and diasporic communities. Seeing as the IRC helped refugees resettle in the Bay Area, among other areas throughout the US, it seemed like a good fit. Every family has a different migration story and interning at the IRC was a good way to learn and here these unique and different journeys.

2. What were your work responsibilities?
The IRC helps refugees in finding housing, attending health and social benefits appointment, finding work, and helping refugees who need long-term assistance in becoming self-sufficient individuals. My responsibilities as a resettlement intern were crucial to the initial arrival of the refugee family. The caseworkers that I worked with only handled family and individual cases for the first 90 days after their arrival, after which they are transferred to the Intensive Case Management branch of the IRC for additional assistance. My responsibilities included making periodic home visits to insure that the family felt safe and supported, taking individuals to social benefits appointments, scheduling initial healthcare checks and setting up primary physician preferences, assist in school enrollment for kids, setting up their new home and etc.

3. Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
I am glad to know that I was able to make a positive change in the lives of individuals and families in need. Interning at the IRC give a new meaning to USF’s motto of “Change the world from here” as it truly does give all of their interns the chance to make a difference in the lives of those in less than ideal situations.

4. How were you able to apply your MAIS coursework to your hands on experience?
During the spring semester, I took a class on refugees and forced migration. The IRC was able to help me better understand the life of a refugee and the struggles that they face on their journey to another country. The class also helped me learn the terminology that is used on a regular basis at the IRC. It was great to learn and apply what I’ve learned simultaneously in the semester. The International Law class was helpful in informing on what claims and threats these refugees must make in order to be granted refugee status. Overall, those two classes provided me with a great framework and understanding of migration and the rights afforded to refugees.

5. What did you gain from your internship?
From this internship I’ve gained a better perspective of what refugees must go through. It also gives me a better perspective on the US immigration system. Prior to coming attending USF and getting my internship at the IRC, I had worked at a law firm where I was tasked with filling out and sending immigration forms for business purposes. The IRC is the complete opposite of business immigration, and I am glad to have gained the experience and perspective of both sides of the immigration world.

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