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!
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.
For many students who came to Clarkston for spring break, this was first service learning trip with Something New. Abby, from University of Wisconsin Eau Claire had an amazing trip. Here’s what she had to say:
“I truly believe that the experiences you least expect are the experiences that change your life the most. For me, the Alternative Spring Break Trip to Clarkston was just that; unexpected and life altering. I remember attending an informational meeting about the trip, and not understanding why no one could explain what the trip was like for them. It took me personally being in Clarkson to understand the perplexity of emotions and thoughts that go through your mind when trying to describe what your spring break was like. Not only was it inspiring and emotional, but uplifting. For the first time in my life, I felt at home. I was surrounded by people I knew who cared for me, and had my best interest in mind. To be in place of complete honesty, vulnerability, and love is not an environment that is common. The volunteers at Something New are the reason why I experienced many of these emotions, and experiences. The Something New volunteers are a special group of dedicated, devoted, and loving crew who were welcoming from day one.
In my efforts for others to experience the dedication of the Something New Organization, I do my best to share my ASB trip experience with those who have little knowledge of the trip itself. I hope to inspire others to take action, join the Alternative Spring Break trip next year, and to create positive encourage for others out there to continue supporting the wonderful Something New Organization.”
Cynthia is a volunteer with Something New whose heart to serve is driven by her love for teaching. In this time of travel bans and uncertainty, Cynthia roles out her classroom’s welcome mat everyday hoping to provide a safe place for her students. She contributed this Blog.
I have hope. Despite the heart-wrenching, divisive talk happening every day across our country, I have to believe we are so much better. Just step into my classroom and you’ll see why.
Every month New Expression hosts a potluck in Clarkston as an effort to get to know our neighbors and build community. Onur attended our last potluck and was amazed by the event. He is a student of NXP volunteer Cynthia Gibson, and wanted to share his thoughts about the party.
We went to a party which is called as “potluck”. I was not familiar with that term at all. As far as I learnt, it would be a party where immigrants and volunteers come together and share their foods with each other. We had lots of fun and talk with the other parents at the party. I always admire those people who leave their problems aside and spend their time and effort to help to others. I also feel myself close to them as long as I believe that they are sincere.