What is the Internship All About?

Larissa’s Reflections (at the Half-Way Mark), Feb 2017:Larissa preferreda


I return from the gym every morning around eight.

The kitchen is lively by now, as people are starting their morning routine before leaving for school. I do my best to wish everyone a good day as they head out. I have done it so often, that now when I leave, one of the moms who speaks very little English says, “Have a good day!”

As an intern, you are a friend, settlement worker, learner, teacher, advocate, friend and family member.

When I completed my Bachelors of Social Work, I had no idea I would be so fortunate to be in a place that combines micro, mezzo and macro levels of social work. An intern builds community in the house that becomes like a family,  facilitates connections of volunteers to the people you live with, and has the quiet one on one moments often where bits and pieces of a person’s story begin to unfold. You cherish all of these opportunities.
I could go on about the incredible benefit this job is to you personally and professionally, but let me tell you what being an intern is about.


It is about community.

You share moments with everyone living here like the Wednesday House Dinners, where you hear laughter pouring out of the Welcome Centre. Or the moment where you sit in the living room and receive sage advice from the older women you live with. It continues to when you are sick and you have thirteen friends wishing you well and giving you the best advice of what to drink and eat to feel better.

It is the quiet moments of listening to each person’s experience, their life wisdom and of course cultural practices. It is leaving for a week and having everyone you live with hug you, take pictures and stand at the door to wish you well. Or the big hug you receive when you return, at the sheer joy of seeing each other.


It is enriching.

In this role you live in Canada, but you live in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Uganda and Somalia.  Each day you experience multiple personal and cultural values floating around you. You grab hold of the moments when you sit and drink tea and discuss world events. You smile at the care that is taken when helping to prepare food for guests.


It is educational.

There are countless opportunities to learn about the cultures of the people you live with, to facilitate a cross cultural experience for a new volunteer, to facilitate programming and to constantly learn how policy affects each person in the bedrooms across the hall from you. When you don’t know what to do, your fellow intern and the rest of the staff team is there to support you and guide you.

The Canadian Council for Refugees Consultation is a three day conference where you are surrounded by people from all over Canada who work hard to advocate for refuge rights. It is educational and inspiring. You learn from the people you live with, from the staff, and from training opportunities in the community. All of these make the Welcome Home internship a place to acquire new skills and challenge your comfort zone.


It is growth.

I can now say I have experience in the role of friend, settlement worker, case manager, interfaith dialogue, advocate, helper, learner, teacher and listener- sometimes all in the same day. It is stretching to experience the Canada you know from a completely different perspective.  It teaches you to explore your strengths and limitations.

You have no option but to grow in an environment that challenges and causes you to think about your own cultural and personal values and how they relate to everyone else’s. This job is a rare opportunity to be immersed in an environment with people from all over the world living together in community. As each person experiences Canada and what it means to them, you will have a deepened understanding of what it really means to be refugee in Canada. It will make you grow and it will change you.