World Relief is charged not only with meeting the immediate needs of refugees for food and shelter but also with helping them to adjust to a new culture and new rules in the American community. Some of this learning obviously comes with time through the one-on-one interaction that the families have with their caseworkers and volunteers. It has also been helpful, however, to provide both instruction and opportunity for questions in a classroom setting as well.
Just as with previous groups of refugees, I have had the chance to teach cultural orientation classes for the Meskhetian Turks to provide information and explanation about the new concepts and differences the families are encountering.
Some of the cultural orientation classes have centered on basic topics needed by all refugees such as community services, schools, and employment. Because they are starting with a more Western background and transferable knowledge, we have also been able to provide more “advanced” classes for the Turks on everything from higher education to purchasing automobiles. The Turks are attending these classes with enthusiasm—glad to have the chance to learn and ask questions. We even get to take occasional field trips to places in the community such as the library, post office, and dollar store