Garrett – My experience as a C.I.F. volunteer

25 Jun

Hi Everyone!

My name’s Garrett McGuin and I’m an active volunteer for the Centreville Immigration Forum.  I was born and raised in the Northern Virginia area and I’m just getting ready to completely finish my bachelor’s degree in Organizational Administration at George Mason University.  Through my time at Mason I’ve developed a closer relationship with a professor named Al Fuertes who has been actively involved in CIF activities as well.  Al was the facilitator for some of the early CIF town meetings, delivers sermons at the Wellspring UCC church, and teaches conflict resolution, trauma and healing classes, as well as refugee classes at Mason.  I had the opportunity to attend some of the ESL sessions that are taught on Sundays at the Centreville Regional Library through a Refugee course that I took from Al.  I got to meet a new group of people that I normally would never have the opportunity to get to know before I took the Refugee class.

Throughout two semesters at Mason I was able to attend some of these sessions and get to know immigrants from different parts of the world on a more personal level.  All of them had a story to tell and I learned so much from my interactions.  Most of the people I was helping with English speaking skills were day laborers who typically stand on the local street corners each and every day looking for work. Most of them say they want to be able to send back money to their families and offer them the support they need through tough times.  Many of the day laborers that I got to meet dream of being able to go back home at some point too, however, their families need them to be able to send back money because their is not the same kind of opportunities for work as they can get here.   However, sometimes they may go for weeks without work and have to sacrifice a normal life for themselves in order to provide for their families.

My experience with the CIF thus far has been enlightening for me.  I’ve had the opportunity to help with the ESL sessions, research day laborer employment, and sit in with the Communications Committee to talk about the message and goals of the CIF.  I also built the current webpage that can be found at “centrevilleimmigrationforum.org” and I am helping as much as I can with the newest website currently under construction.  So far all of the people whom I have had the privilege of meeting, whether it be CIF volunteers or the people the CIF has been helping, have inspired me to see things from a light I’ve never examined before.  Many people view day laborers as “eye soars” or people who are taking money and jobs out of our economy.  However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it would be that personal connection and the sharing of our experiences are what truly shed light on right and wrong.  Biases and prejudice are widespread, it seems to be the world we live in.  Yet if we take the time to sit down and have a conversation with someone, we will quickly learn that we have so much more in common than we think.  We are all human and we all have our own goals and visions, and meanings to our life.  I believe that it is finding the commonality between people that makes our world a better place.  I view the Centreville Labor Resource Center as an opportunity for a community to unite and work together at creating a community where everyone is treated fairly and where everyone can find support within each other.

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