She is Exodus Refugee’s community engagement coordinator, helping refugees smoothly transition into a new life in Indy.
I wear several hats that all focus on engaging the community with Exodus Refugee in different ways. I spend a majority of my time recruiting, screening, training, and coordinating all of our interns and individual and group volunteers, including our faith and corporate partners. I also do educational presentations in the community about refugee resettlement, Exodus, and how folks can get involved. Since there has been a need to advocate for the refugee resettlement program locally and nationally, I work alongside our executive director, Cole Varga, to assist with our political advocacy. Lastly, I manage our public relations and social media accounts, and write some of our blog posts and refugee stories.
Since 1981, Exodus has welcomed thousands of refugees who have fled persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, or social group. Refugees arrive in Indianapolis with hope for a better future, but face a lot of challenges, such as a language barrier, feelings of social isolation and loneliness, and culture shock. Refugees also have to navigate so many complicated systems, such as the transportation system, healthcare, and the school system. Exodus provides a wide range of services and programs to address those obstacles and barriers, including housing assistance, case management, employment, mental wellness counseling, youth and women’s programs, and English classes and education.
Indianapolis is home to the largest Burmese population in the United States, mainly Chin and Karen ethnic groups. They are thriving in the city, and they live primarily on the city’s south and north side (Nora area). They have established several churches, grocery stores, and delicious restaurants. If you have never had Burmese food, I highly recommend going to Chin Brothers or Kimu Restaurant, both located on the south side. Indy is also home to refugees from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan.
There are translation and interpretation services available for refugees, thanks to LUNA Language Services and LTC Language Solutions. Schools in Indianapolis all have English as a Second Language classes, and teachers have played a huge role in going above and beyond for their students
There are many ways that people can support Exodus or refugee resettlement agencies in their own cities. People can volunteer, donate financially or donate household items for apartment setups, or contact their elected officials to let them know they support refugees. People can also educate themselves about the refugee crisis and the refugee resettlement program because there is so much misinformation about refugees. Education is the key to being better advocates for our neighbors. Lastly, make sure you follow Exodus on social media to stay connected.
It is hard to list only one, so I am going to list my top five places: Duos Kitchen for lunch, Abyssinia for Ethiopian cuisine, Chapati for Pakistani/Indian cuisine, Siam Square for Thai cuisine, and Vida for something upscale.
I love Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company where I can get a freshly brewed cup of coffee and something sweet from Circle City Sweets or Tea’s Me Cafe for a delicious cup of tea. As for a nightlife spot, The Jazz Kitchen with my friends is my favorite.
It would be a sunny Saturday. I would have brunch with friends at Lincoln Square Pancake House, then we would go for a walk on Mass Ave and take a lot of photos and selfies, stop by Silver in the City, Global Gifts, and Indy Reads, and then eat ice cream at Lick Ice Cream. Then, we would go have dinner at Bazbeaux.
I would definitely take them to Newfields for both the art museum and outdoor experience. We would also go to Monument Circle and then walk on the Canal. I would also show them the Reggie Miller mural on Mass Ave, because who doesn’t love Reggie Miller? And we would enjoy a meal at The Eagle, Bru Burger, or Vida.
This place isn’t hidden, but White River Gardens is one of my favorite places in the city. It is so peaceful. And although I graduated in 2016, I still enjoy visiting IUPUI, especially going to sit by The Wood Fountain, which is across the Herron School of Art and Design. Being on campus still brings me joy today as it did my first day of college. Go Jaguars! Also, Tlaolli, located on East Washington Street is another great food spot.
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