A Day in the Life of a CWS Intern

Casey Smith | July 20, 2013

Casey Smith sharing with a community member at a CWS event. Photo: Kate Roberts

Casey Smith sharing with a community member at a CWS event. Photo: Kate Roberts

As originally published on http://cwsrdu.org/2013/07/16/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-cws-intern/

Today’s guest post comes from Casey Smith, CWS-Durham’s summer case management intern. Casey recently graduated from East Chapel Hill High School where she assisted with day camps for refugee children, events for refugee awareness, and worked to tutor refugee high school students. She will be attending Wesleyan University this fall. We are grateful for her many contributions to refugee resettlement here in the Triangle region. If you’d like to apply to be a CWS Intern this fall, click here.

As a case management intern for CWS, most of what I do is helping new arrival clients access community services and navigate the health system. This includes going to the health department with clients for appointments, helping clients apply for Medicaid, Food Stamps or WIC, taking them to the DMV or the Social Security office, and setting up housing for new arrivals. I also pick up clients from the airport, assist with ESL class, and take clients to volunteer at the homeless shelter for job practice. To give anyone who’s interested in interning at CWS a better idea of what a typical schedule might look like, I kept a journal of one week of my summer!

Tuesday: Tuesday was my first day back from a 4th of July weekend vacation. I spent the morning at the reception desk, answering phone calls and helping out clients who walk into the door. In the afternoon, I assisted with the advanced English class. We went over vocabulary related to illnesses and going to the doctor, and did writing exercises that used the past tense. It was fun to see how enthusiastic and attentive everyone was in class, and how quickly they picked up the new words.

Wednesday: On Wednesday I went with one of the case managers to pick up furniture donations from community members. It made me happy to see that Triangle residents are so welcoming and generous to their newest neighbors. Afterwards, I helped some clients apply for identification cards and reduced priced phone services.

Thursday: Thursday morning, I took a client to an appointment at the health department. After that, I taught an ESL class. Since we were learning first aid vocabulary, part of the lesson included passing out items from a first aid kit and going over what each item was for. Learning English is such a challenge, but it’s inspiring to see everyone smiling and working hard in class. My last task for the day was bringing supplies to an apartment being set up for a new family.

Friday: On Friday, I went with one of the CWS case managers to sort through donated items in our storage areas. Afterwards, I took a client to the Medicaid office. Everyone working at the health services office was helpful and patient, and I ended the week feeling proud to live in an area that is so receptive to people from around the world.

Doing an internship at CWS is a great experience for anyone who loves working with people and wants to see what it’s like working at a nonprofit organization. I volunteered with refugees throughout high school, and as a rising college freshman, I’m still deciding what I want to study and exploring various career options. Because my internship at CWS has involved many different responsibilities, I’ve learned about public policy, health care, and community outreach. Most importantly, I’m getting the opportunity to see what refugees experience when they first arrive in the United States.

Click here for the CWS Fall Internship Application.