2018 has been an incredible year – thank you for all your support!
This weekend, Something New volunteers helped organize the Amani Women’s Center sewing room. Dozens of women in the Clarkston community attend sewing classes twice a week, in order to find ways to help provide for their families. Read more here!
Contributed by Maddie, one of our New Expression volunteers
At New Expression Clarkston, we like to give the kids a chance to do whatever activities they think best expresses who they are. For me personally, art is a way I express myself, so I’ll work with a lot of the young girls who like art too!
In art club is has been so amazing to experience new things to and be with the kids. We’ve been doing a lot of field trips lately. I have taken girls in the community to different places like the library, nature parks and playgrounds. It has been amazing to see them each weekend jump into the car so excited for the new adventure.
As we’ve been adventuring out of our normal meeting space, we have also met new people in the community. One of my favorite memories recently is when we went to one of the Dekalb libraries and taught the girls how to knit and make bracelets. Different kids would come through and just sit down and participate with us. The girls would help each other and encourage each other in making scarves, hats and bracelets. Everybody felt so welcome to talk and jump right in!
We have loved taking art club out to the community!
Trauma- a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.
This word has become more real and relevant to me as we get to experience the incredible stories of some amazing individuals. Starting this month, we get to spend time with and teach middle and high school refugee students in Clarkston once a week. The students we teach represent many walks of life from Ghana, Kenya, Korea, Dubai, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Zambia just to name a few. As we listen to their stories, the reality of their traumatic experiences come to life in living color. The persecution and violence they faced have given me a different perspective in how I view the issues here in the USA that we can address as citizens and New Way trainers.
Their stories also continue to validate and reassure me of the work that we do and how much it’s needed. Although the students’ circumstances may leave lasting psychological scars (and physical scars for some), you can feel hope. As we go through activities together, you feel hope arise through smiles and laughter, sometimes even tears. We feel how love touches the human soul and reminds each person of their gifts and value on this earth.
These weekly workshops have become one of the most powerful hours of my week as I see love conquer hate and heal brokenness in many. I see those that would not talk laughing uncontrollably with their peers. I see those that could not speak English well, speak the language of love that we all understand.
Although my natural experience are not anywhere close to being the same as the students, I am learning that any level or degree of trauma must be addressed with patience, love and understanding. I walk away weekly having learned more than I could ever teach. There is truly a New Way of dealing with the trauma in our lives. We must learn to go through the struggle together because we come out closer and stronger in unity on the other side. We are human! We are love. We are family.
In a time when our nation’s highest administration is working to build barriers to keep refugees out of the country, Something New is committed to building community with our neighbors in Clarkston, GA. Clarkston is an example of a community where new neighbors and long-time residents are embracing the challenges that come with building a strong community. It is a place where many cultures and languages collide and where people are discovering the strength in diversity. It is a place where bridges are working better than walls. Clarkston is worth exploring and a powerful place to learn more about refugee resettlement and get involved, now is the time!
With its high population of recently resettled refugees, Clarkston, GA is a vibrant community—rich in diverse experiences, cultures, and by extension—food! Located just a few miles from downtown Atlanta, Clarkston is a small town that takes you on a trip around the world in just a few blocks.
The residents of Clarkston are from all over — Burma, Bhutan, Cuba, Somalia, the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Refugees from these countries bring with them their own ways of life, as well as the incredible and difficult circumstances they have endured on their journey to rebuilding their lives.
About 85% of local businesses are owned by people who came to Clarkston as refugees. Students attend schools where 60 languages are spoken and adults often work multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. As people work to rebuild their lives, about 40% live below the poverty line and many adults are not able to work in the same careers they had in their home countries.
Each refugee has a story of war, separation, violence and hardship and they also share a common drive to build a safe, secure, and brighter future for their children and new community. The daily demonstration of sacrifice and the warm hospitality felt among new neighbors makes Clarkston a unique and powerful place for an alternative break.
We were recently featured in the City of Clarkston Connection (April 2017) Here is what they had to say about our Alternative Break program and students: Clarkston Connection