From Student Visa to Resettlement Program Coordinator

August 14, 2023

Alex Maina is the Resettlement Program Coordinator at CWS Harrisonburg office in Virginia. Originally from Kenya, Alex Moved to the U.S. on a student visa. He began at CWS in July 2021 as a case manager and, within a year, was promoted to head of the resettlement program. “I have been heading this program for one and half years now.” Alex said. “For starters I am not a refugee. I came to the U.S. on student visa.” 

During a green card interview as he transitioned from student visa to permanent resident, Alex learned about CWS Harrisonburg and discovered that they had job positions open, and someone who spoke Swahili was much preferred. Alex speaks Swahili and English fluently. Some of our clients speak Swahili. 

Alex finds great joy in his job, “My job gives me time to focus on what aspects are missing in terms of service delivery.”  Making improvements on a daily basis brings Alex a sense of fulfillment.

When it comes to the clients our CWS Harrisonburg office serves, the top nationalities are Afghan and Congolese, followed by individuals from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador, and a few from Rwanda, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Eritrea.

One aspect that particularly stands out to Alex is the amazing diversity among the staff at CWS Harrisonburg. In fact, 90 percent of the CWS Harrisonburg team consists of former refugees! Although he himself has never been a refugee, working alongside staff members who have experienced displacement provides him with a valuable perspective. “This exposure enables me to better understand the unique needs of each refugee, recognizing that their circumstances are not one-size-fits-all.” Alex added.