Rising senior and Prospect, Kentucky, native Arabella Werner spent her spring semester interning with Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
KRM is a nonprofit organization in Louisville dedicated to providing resettlement services to refugees through faith-and agency-based co-sponsorship in order to promote self-sufficiency and successful integration into the community.
As part of that internship, Werner worked as a Spanish ESL instructor for Cuban refugees and also did some interpretation work for her students. In the spring, when the pandemic accelerated, Werner had to leave the classroom and the face-to-face work she was doing with students, switching to other tasks that do not require direct contact.
“I primarily conducted practice interviews for the citizenship test with refugees via telephone. I also utilized Spanish interpreting skills during the interviews. I worked remotely from my back porch. It was definitely an adjustment. I am grateful, however, that I was able to continue my work remotely, despite the crisis,” Werner said.
Werner, who is an honors student studying communication with a minor in Spanish, says the internship with Kentucky Refugee Ministries has greatly benefited her as she prepares for life after her May 2021 graduation.
“My Spanish speaking skills have improved and my interpersonal communication skills have been refined. As a Communications major and Spanish minor, I believe this internship has also aided me in seriously considering my career path,” she said. “I plan on entering the public relations and sales field, while also utilizing my Spanish speaking abilities. I am hoping medical interpreting, alongside medical sales will provide me with both aspects.”
It was UofL’s strong communication and foreign language departments that drew Werner to campus in the first place. As for this internship, beyond helping her developing a stronger professional skillset, it has also helped Werner develop soft skills and find a purpose.
“Every day I entered my ESL classroom or picked up the telephone to conduct an interview, I have been overwhelmed with joy. It has been a fulfilling opportunity to contribute to the needs of refugees,” she said. “My cultural awareness and overall perspective have been enhanced by my hardworking, humorous and resilient students.”
Story written by Stuart Esrock, associate professor in the Department of Communications. Contributions from Alicia Kelso, OCM.