This past Sunday, the Boston chapter of The List Project had a kickoff event for Americans and Iraqis at the home of Benjamin Dunay, a new volunteer for TLP.
The meeting started very informally with people mingling and getting to know each other. Almost everybody brought food, with volunteers taking extra care to make sure that the food was within Halal dietary guidelines.
As people started brainstorming ways to help newly arrived Iraqis, a few key topics started to emerge. “Without a doubt, the biggest obstacle we need to help the Iraqis overcome (once they’re in an apartment and otherwise settled) is finding employment.” To that end, some volunteers, including one who speaks both Arabic and English, are being mobilized to help Iraqis practice and learn English as a supplement to the ESL instruction that is usually offered through the resettlement agencies.
In addition to helping Iraqis improve their English skills, Liz Siegel and Ben Dunay are planning to start a campus TLP chapter at their school – New England Law | Boston. This will be a sub-chapter that operates as a part of TLP Boston, assisting with advocacy and research.
Perhaps more important than the programs that are being set up are the friendships that are being formed between Iraqis and Americans in Boston. It’s the one thing that resettlement agencies aren’t contracted to provide, even though it is one of the deepest needs experienced by new arrivals.
We would like to thank all of our Iraqi families and volunteers in Boston, especially Ben, Erik, Dina, Liz, Rosemary, April, Beckie, and Anthony.
The Boston chapter is off to a great start, and we look forward to following up with them to give an update on how things are going. If you’re interested in joining the Boston Chapter, you should join Netroots our online community.
Note: The Boston Globe recently published a couple of articles that involved The List Project. The first one is a profile piece on Kirk Johnson, our founder. The second one is an article about Ihsan Yaqoob, a TLP resettled Iraqi living in the Boston area.