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Andrea Gerhart

05.23.13 | Stories of Life Change

    I have always been interested in working with people from other cultures. When Jesus says, "Whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you have done unto me," these are the people he's talking about.

    What campus do you attend, and how long have you been attending?

    I’ve been attending the Aurora campus.  It’s been a phenomenal year and a half!

    Why did you decide to become involved with World Relief – ESL, Etc?

    I have always been interested in working with people from other cultures. I started working with World Relief while I was in graduate school and started hearing the stories of different refugees and all that they went through in their home counties. The definition of a refugee is "an immigrant who has a viable threat on their life in their home country." They truly are some of the most persecuted and vulnerable people in the entire world. When Jesus says, "Whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you have done unto me", these are the people he's talking about.

    What has been your most memorable moment within the ministry?

    Teaching English and working cross-culturally always yields a variety of both memorable and funny situations. One thing I love about my job is watching people grow from when they first step off the plane to when they have a job and are able to be self-sufficient. One of our students just opened up a Nepali grocery store on Lake Street. When he first came over to the United States, he did not speak much English and did not have much in the way of job skills. Now not only is he a business owner but he is also fulfilling a big need in the growing Bhutanese community here in Aurora.

    I also enjoy watching people from different parts of the world interact and get to know one another. Last year, two of our students - one from Mexico, one from Iraq - became such good friends in class that one taught the other one how to drive outside of class. They both had very low English and to this day, I'm not exactly sure how well they communicated, but they both overcame their cultural and linguistic differences to befriend and help each other thrive in the United States.

    How much time do you spend on this?

    I’m thrilled that my “ministry” is also my full-time job. I have been working with World Relief for 4 years.  Volunteers are free to give as much time as they have. On some of the volunteer jobs, there are hour requirements, but it can be as little as 1 hour a week to a full-time intern position, which would be 25-40 hours a week. 

    In what ways can Village become involved?

    World Relief cannot do this alone, and we don't want to. Our goal is to work along side the church in doing ministry to the most vulnerable in our communities. There are a variety of ways to get involved.

    We are so excited that will be holding our English/Job Skills Classes at the Aurora Campus, and we'll need some help in classes Monday through Thursday, from 8:00-12:15 pm.

    There are also other ways to be involved such as picking newly arrived refugees up at the airport, helping to set up their new home before they get here through our Good Neighbor Kit ministry, becoming a friendship partner where you meet with a newly arrived refugee family once a week for the first few months they are here, homework clubs tutor for refugee kids, Citizenship Tutors help people prepare for their citizenship exams, and many others. Being a non-profit organization, we are also dependent on grants and private donations to cover our operating expenses. We have a program where you can support different aspects of our ministry (i.e: an ESL class, or a Job class, helping our refugees find jobs, etc) for a certain dollar amount each month. We also are in need of furniture and other donations to furnish apartments and houses for the newly arrived refugees.

    Please visit our website for more information on our organization and ways to get involved: http://worldreliefdupage.org

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