On any given day, Joy Duginske might be talking to
an Iraqi refugee hoping to find a job in Chicago or helping a
single mother from Burma find not only a job, but child care while
she works. For someone who grew up in a comfortable suburb of
Indianapolis, this exposure to the world's problems has been
life-altering, Duginske says.
As part of the refugee and immigrant services team for
Heartland Human Care Services in Chicago, Duginske spends her time
helping refugees polish their resume and practice their
interviewing skills. She'll head out with them to job interviews to
smooth the process of finding work for people who have left
"We try to understand the stress and trauma they've been
through. I try to put myself in their shoes," says Duginske. "But
that's hard to do as an American because I know I'll never face
anything similar to what they're going through."
Some of her toughest days are when she has to explain to
someone who may have been a physician in their homeland that their
best hope for a job here is in food service. Things like that stick
"This is a matter of human rights. My work every day is
trying to afford people basic human rights, like affording food and
being able to access health care and pay for housing," she says.
"Simple things people take for granted that everyone
In spite of the challenges, it's gratifying work. "The
resettlement process is very stressful," Duginske says. "I think
just knowing these people are looking to us to help them get on
their feet and make the transition, it has been
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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