An Agent of Change: Immigrants and Refugees

For a project in my English class, final task was to act as an agent of change and make some sort of splash in the world. I decided to host a drive for school supplies to give refugees. I set up a large box to collect donations at my school, Science Leadership Academy. The box has been accepting contribution since the middle of April.

This all started back in November when I made my very first blog post about immigration reform. At that time, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into! I never would have believed that one blog post would make me care so much about such an intriguing yet complicated national issue.

After that first post, I took a small step back. I decided to look around me and ask some people that were close to me what they thought about possible immigration reform for our country. I gathered some interesting original research and compiled it into my second blog post.

Now, I am here, on my third and final blog post. Yet I can hardly recall how all of this came to be. What is it that I have been doing for the past month that makes me a true agent of change? For several weeks I called, emailed, and submitted volunteer forms to countless companies, organizations, and charities around Philadelphia that work with or for immigrants. To be completely honest, this was a painstakingly long and tedious process. For a while I thought I could work directly with immigrants and refugees; I could use my fluency in Hebrew and Russian to talk and translate for new Americans. Yet, as it so happens, I am a bit too young and inexperienced for a job like that. This was very disappointing news for me. This was all the volunteer work some organizations asked for.  Yet, finally, I found just the right organization that I needed and wanted.

HAIS Pennsylvania (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) is an organization that primarily focuses on welcoming new Jewish people into the United States. Among the many things HIAS does to ensure total care and welcoming for the new immigrants, it provides the following programs: representation and legal counseling before immigration agencies and courts; citizenship, refugee resettlement and other social services to assist newly arriving immigrants, refugees and those recently granted asylum; advocacy and education related to immigrant issues and rights (mission). It is through this organization that I was able to set up a collection for school supplies. All of these supplies will be donated directly to refugees.


(Above, you can see just some snippets of my flyers, posters, and box. I posted flyers all around the halls, stairways, and doors; and even a huge poster right above the box.

Right now I think that I am at a point where I have done just about everything that I can do for immigrants/refugees. This experience, though it was short, helped me discover that I work better with a team. I clearly struggled when I was also, but once Marina Merlin began working with me, I gained confidence and resources. Eventually I became more stable by myself, yet I know that I will always prefer a team. As time goes by, I hope to stay tightly connected with this wonderful organization and to also keep a close eye on any immigration reform that will happen in the near future. I am still young and inexperienced, so I truly look forward to learning more and gradually changing my community and my world.