Friday Feature: The SIV story on This American Life podcast

This Friday we hope you will listen to a podcast with powerful stories of Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients. This American Life is my favorite podcast. The amazing stories of real people always help take my mind off the daily grind. For employment staff who work hard to find better job for those SIVs who are highly educated and often speak English quite well I hope you will enjoy this podcast.

This American Life is an American weekly hour-long radio program produced by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and hosted by Ira Glass. It is broadcast on numerous public radio stations in the United States and is also available as a free weekly podcast. Primarily a journalistic non-fiction program, it has also features essays, memoirs, field recordings, and short fiction.

On January 6, 2017 This American Life aired episode 607: “Didn’t We Solve this One?” This episode masterfully captures the journey of Iraqis who took on the harrowing task of helping US forces juxtaposed against the struggle in Congress to create the SIV program. The SIV program brings Iraqis to the US who served the US forces and now their lives are targeted because of the work they did for the US.

For more information on the SIV program read this post: Afghan and Iraqi SIV Programs

Access the podcast here 

 

Friday Feature: What’s Changing in Cuba?

cuba

Photo Credit:  Patrick Oppman in CNN

Read, see and hear what Cuba is like now in a multi-media feature from CNN.  Images, a video and article from Patrick Oppman focus on the effects of increased travel and reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.

For all of us who resettle Cuban payrolees, we’ve felt the changes in recent and ongoing surges in Cuban arrivals.  Check out previous Higher Friday Features and other posts highlighting ongoing changes affecting Cuban clients.

(On occasional Fridays, we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Snapshot of Refugee Arrivals Data Through July 2016

The current surge in arrivals portrayed in three graphics that will help you place your own experience into national perspective.

Most states have received some of the 7,500+ Syrians to arrive in the US since the beginning of FY16. Five States – Michigan, California, Arizona, Texas and Pennsylvania – have resettled the highest number of Syrians.  As of the end of July, Myanmar, DRC and Syria were the top nationalities being resettled in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 12.12.47 PM

 

Reminder: Register Now to Join our Webinar on Thursday, June 30th

6.30 webinarPlease join us Thursday, June 30th at 3:30 pm EST for a free webinar, Job Development Strategies for Syrian Clients.

Learn about emerging job development strategies that have been effective for Syrian clients.  Hear how your peers provide employment services that are client-centered and results-oriented.

Panelists will discuss unique barriers to employment faced by Syrian clients, as well as the unique skills they bring with them to the U.S.  Whether it’s your first day or you’re a seasoned job developer, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

Register for the webinar here.

Free Higher Webinar: Job Development Strategies for Syrian Clients

6.30 webinarPlease join us Thursday, June 30th at 3:30 pm EST for a free webinar, Job Development Strategies for Syrian Clients.

Learn about emerging job development strategies that have been effective for Syrian clients.  Hear how your peers provide employment services that are client-centered and results-oriented.

Panelists will discuss unique barriers to employment faced by Syrian clients, as well as the unique skills they bring with them to the U.S.  Whether it’s your first day or you’re a seasoned job developer, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

Register for the webinar here.

The History of Vietnamese Refugee Resettlement

A Historical Perspective that is Relevant Today 

ha-duong-winter-1975

The author’s parents and elder sister from the article.

Most of us came to this work after refugees from the war in Vietnam began what many say is the first population to be resettled In the modern refugee resettlement system. 

Written by a US citizen and child of Vietnamese refugees, an article in qz.com offers facts, shares a very personal story and highlights similarities to current fears about Syrian refugee arrivals. 

“Today the 1.3 million immigrants from Vietnam and their 300,000 or so children, along with their culture and cuisine, are just one more inextricable strand of the American fabric.”  

The article includes convincing statistics that highlight the successes of this resettled population from the Migration Policy Institute and Pew Research. There’s so much to inspire and inform you in the story.  

BanhMi

Banh Mi. Yummy.

Right now, I can’t stop thinking about a bahn mi for lunch, though. 

Religious Observance and Employment: Headscarves

Headscarf Employment Barriers @ higheradvantage.orgThrowback Thursday: a classic Higher blog post about a fundamental of our work.

Addressing religious beliefs that present barriers to employment is tricky.  Religious expression is personal and individual.

Finding the right balance between addressing potential barriers to employment and respecting religious freedom can feel uncomfortable, especially when speaking to someone with different beliefs than your own.

Click here to read a great TedTalk explanation of how headscarfs have become the symbol of a stereotype and the diverse motivations Muslim women feel for making their own choice about how to dress.  It will definitely help you understand, empathize and feel more comfortable talking to clients about this.

3 Talking Points You Can Use

Here are three practical talking points that will help you address barriers to employment around headscarfs in the workplace:

1. Women will not be forced to work with their heads uncovered or dressed in other ways that go against their beliefs.  Discrimination based on religion, nationality, gender or ethnic origin (among others) is illegal.

Click here to read the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities.

2. There are many legitimate reasons for employer concern that go beyond discrimination.  We can help address those.  Often, concerns are related to hygeine and safety because loose clothing and flowing scarves can get caught in equipment or dangle into food or cleaning chemicals. Safety laws protect workers and customers.  Employers are required by law to follow them.

3.  Shorter, more tailored headscarfs, often in colors matching uniforms are widely available.  You can work with employers to provide examples and even find online sources to order them.  This goes for uniform options like loose pants, long skirts or modesty aprons, too.

One Employer’s Experience and Solution

Employers need to ensure that all employees are treated fairly. If some are given special privileges to dress differently, others might see it as discrimination against them. Here’s an example of how one employer addressed the issue with Muslim employees and their colleagues:

When a hotel partner provided loose uniform pants, longer, more modest tops and matching headscarfs for Muslim women housekeepers, some of their non-Muslim colleagues complained. Previous requests for permission to wear pants, bandanas or baseball caps had been denied.  It didn’t seem fair that some colleagues received special privileges. The hotel invited an Employment Specialist (also a Muslim) to speak at a staff meeting about the basic tenets of Islam around women and clothing. They also requested help to identify a source of specialty uniforms.  We were able to ask another hotel partner to share their previous experience and solutions with the HR department. In the end, the hotel opened the option to wear uniform pants for all women housekeepers but continued to forbid any kind of head covering except for religious purposes.

(A great conversation with Church World Service colleagues motivated a new occasional series of posts to help address common issues we face around religious observance and U.S. workplace norms. Please get in touch to request topics or volunteer to contribute a guest post about some aspect of the topic, that will cover a number of religions, not just Islam.  Comment on this post or send email to information@higheradvantage.org and stay tuned for more.) 

 

Friday Feature: George and Amal Clooney Talk to Syrian Refugees

Any resource that deepens our knowledge about the Syrian refugee experience is valuable, especially when it raises positive public awareness.  And George Clooney!  Ok, and Amal, too.

(On occasional Fridays, we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

Friday Feature: Syrian Refugees Parts 1 and 2: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

samanthaTwo recent episodes of TBS’s Full Frontal with Samanta Bee are filmed in Jordan and New Jersey.  You can see refugee camps, urban refugee life and overseas pre-departure cultural orientation classes.  You’ll also see that the Syrians in these videos have kept their sense of humor despite what they’re going through.

Maybe you won’t want to share these with employers, as is the stated purpose of Friday Features. You’ll hear extreme sarcasm, cursing and politically-incorrect humor targeting many elected officials and hopefuls. They’re timely and hilarious, though.

Syrian Refugees Part 1: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS

Syrian Refugees part 2: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS

(On occasional Fridays, we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)

 

What’s it Like to Resettle Syrians? (A Higher video exclusive)

Learn about the Syrian refugee employment experience of Church World Service in Jersey City, NJ.  Thanks to Mahmoud Mahmoud, Office Director, who shared his experience during Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop in Omaha last November.  Hear his take on skilled trades, women in the workplace and more.