Interview with Mrs. Karen Kurilko of Commonwealth Catholic Charities Resettlement Services

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Refugees and Displaced Persons

My interview with Mrs. Kurilko supplied me with an abundant amount of intelligent knowledge.  Because she has been working with Commonwealth Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Services for about fifteen years, she has accumulated much wisdom and compassion for refugees and the seriousness of their circumstances.  Before interviewing her, I had little to no understanding of the resettlement process.  Mrs. Kurilko informed me that the United States government sets a cap of resettling 70,000 refugees a year, while there are more than fourteen million refugees in the world.  In her opinion, the government should focus on resettling more people.  I also learned that refugees are assigned to specific areas and individual agencies based on the area/agencies capabilities.

Mrs. Kurilko explained how difficult it can be for people of different cultures to integrate into a civilized society.  Some of the refugees, such as the Iraqis, are from cultures similar to America and can therefore adapt much easier.  Others come from small tribal villages in third world countries and have never heard spoken English before.  Undeniably these individuals and families struggle to adjust to American culture.  A major issue I had not considered is the difference in the roles of women across different cultures.  Women typically are not used to working and helping to support a household.  Given the jobs available to refugees, it is imperative that both men and women work here in America especially if they are providing for a family.  This gives the women a sense a freedom that both scares and excites them.  Often the husbands of working women do not appreciate that they are self-sufficient and independent.  Also, the way people discipline their children varies in different parts of the world.  While American culture rebukes physical punishment, many other societies venerate it.  The deviation in cultural norms is astounding, and I am very excited to dive deeper into the lives of refugees and their struggles to adapt.

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