Before Anne Marie bustled out the door to bring a refugee family to the WIC office, we were able to sit down and chat about her time interning with LSS, Services for New Americans (now Ascentria Care Alliance). Its amazing Anne Marie has been with us as much as she has, given that she is taking a 24 credit hour course load, is part of the French Club, Student of Social Work Club, and is a mentor at the Aspiring Hands UNH Somersworth Youth Safe Haven after-school program.
Anne Marie is in her final semester at UNH Durham where she is finishing her dual major in Social Work and French. While we feel badly that her course load added to her internship has equated to an unsustainable sleep pattern, Anne Marie assures us, “I don’t even mind getting up at 6:30am after a two hour nap! I feel I’m making a difference here.”
Indeed, Anne Marie has become a vital part of the case management team at SNA. Her weekly responsibilities have included going to the homes of newly arrived refugees and doing an intake. According to Anne Marie “the intake process is where I ask the family about their past professional experience, if they have extended family living in the United States, and what their goals are so that we can refer them to the correct services”.
Beyond that, she is becoming very familiar with the paperwork that goes along with documenting social services, “but it’s really good practice and helps me learn about benefits etc.,” she said. Unique to Anne Marie is her role as a French interpreter and translator. Initially, she thought a dual major in French would be more of a novelty, but with the current resettlement trend of a higher percentage of Congolese, she utilizes it almost every day of her internship.
“I really have to be on my toes when I interpret for an intake or an orientation. It’s very rapid, not like the classroom setting. Sometimes I find myself having to explain around the actual word. I ask the refugees a lot, ‘Are you getting any of this?’ and they always tell me, ‘Yes! 90%!’ So, that’s relieving!” Anne Marie laughed.
After graduation, Anne Marie would like to work in the social work field with elderly persons in a capacity that allows her to also speak French before going onto get her Master’s degree in Social Work. After her mother passed away when Anne Marie was just 10 years old, her grandmother became her primary caretaker, mother figure, and best friend. “I loved hanging out with my grandmother and her friends. They were fun and I learned so much from their life stories. They gave me great insight,” Anne Marie recalled.
From her upbringing, she knew she wanted to have a helping profession. She started at UNH undeclared, which morphed into pre-nursing, but after her Intro to Sociology course and coming to grips with how squeamish she is around blood, her major finalized on the Social Work track. When it came time for her senior internship, she asked to be placed with refugees, thanks to the impact of her high school world affairs class, and also a setting where she could practice her French. Courtney Perron, whose story we shared earlier this week, is a personal friend who raved about her own internship experience at SNA and Anne Marie’s internship facilitator agreed that SNA would be the ideal placement.
“My time at SNA has been great because it has reinforced my passion for social work and speaking French is essential to my role. I am using all my skills and creating new ones,” Anne Marie commented.
Anne Marie, thank you for all you mean to SNA and the New Americans you serve. You are so valuable and we are so grateful you chose us to gateway into your professional career!