This is part of series of posts by recipients of the 2020 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Emma Davies, COL ’22
This summer, I worked at Nationalities Service Center (NSC), an immigrant and social service organization in Philadelphia, PA. This opportunity was afforded to me thanks to summer grant funding I received from Penn Career Services. Through this generosity, I was able to work and learn at an organization which has shaped my professional goals. Furthermore, the contributions of interns, like me and my fellow NSC peers this summer, makes it possible for NSC to reach their program goals. For almost 100 years, NSC has empowered immigrants to thrive in our communities and pursue a just future. Each year, NSC serves over 5,000 immigrants including refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of crime, in the Greater Philadelphia region and beyond. They provide comprehensive services and supports including legal protections and remedies, health and wellness, education and employment services and language access. I worked in the Bridge-to Wellness Program, which offers comprehensive, multilingual, trauma-informed and culturally responsive services for immigrant survivors of crimes. Within this close-knit program, I have learned what it means to provide support, a path to health, and to empower immigrant survivors of crimes.
At the onset of my internship, I was tasked with supporting NSC’s growth in Montgomery County, PA. In 2000, foreign-born individuals represented 7.0% of the population of Montgomery County, PA, and in 2018, foreign-born individuals represented 11.4%. Due to the growth in immigrants, particularly individuals who identify as Latino and of Asian descent, NSC intended to extend their services into the Montgomery County, PA region. In order to support this operation, I contacted community organizations and government agencies in the area to initiate connections and created informational flyers that clients could use to learn about resources in the area.
In addition to this administrative support, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work in the legal services department. In this capacity, I gained hands-on experience with assisting attorneys with applications for U-visas and T-visas. U-Visas and T-visas are non-immigrant visas that are granted to survivors of certain qualifying crimes within the United States and of survivors of human trafficking. Oftentimes, law students are granted priority in assisting with legal work, so I was immensely grateful to be given the opportunity to assist as an undergraduate. This work was incredibly interesting and re-affirmed my professional aim of going to law school. I am passionate about pursuing a career related to human rights affairs, and I am excited by the possibility of working in a role where legal immigration can be used as a remedy for human rights violations.
In response to the COVID-19 epidemic and the subsequent economic fall-out, NSC doubled down on supporting immigrants through unique economic, social, legal and health-related challenges. Given the nature of many clients’ jobs, many did not have the luxury of working from home. Additionally, clients saw cuts in hours or lost their jobs. When clients faced underemployment or unemployment, they often did not qualify for unemployment benefits or face barriers to attain them. To make matters more challenging, many immigrant clients did not have access to health insurance. To assist in supporting clients through these times, I helped apply for financial assistance to go towards rent. In this role, it became clear the challenges that many immigrants face during economic and public health crises. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and I became aware of the ways in which non-profits respond and adapt in order to better address their clients’ needs.