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Volunteer Stories

Senior Project with St Paul Academy Students

May 30, 2023 | This month, three St. Paul Academy students volunteered at the International Institute of Minnesota in Refugee Services.  As part of a senior project, Lela, Maya, and George worked in Housing Services, helping set up homes for newly arrived refugees and organizing the Institute’s donation room.

The three seniors share how their time at the Institute gave them the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of New Americans. Thank you, George, Lela, and Maya for choosing the Institute as the place to complete your senior projects. We wish you the best in your final weeks as high school students!

George, Colorado College | Class of 2027

“I have had such a great experience doing my senior project at the International Institute of Minnesota working with Sarah and Emmanuel in the housing department. I especially enjoyed working on housing setups for recently arrived refugees. It was amazing to see how thoughtful all of the programs at the Institute are. Before working at the Institute, I did not fully understand how little refugees have to start a new chapter of their lives. I am amazed by refugees’ determination to combat adversity, such as the language and cultural barriers. A huge thank you to Jane, Sarah, and Emmanuel for making it possible to do my project here!”

Lela, Scripps College | Class of 2027

“This experience has been absolutely amazing and eye-opening. At the Institute, I was surrounded by a different community, with people from all over the world. Seeing the incredible impact of the day-to-day work at the Institute has been amazing. I loved every part of this month. Some of my favorite moments were setting up an apartment for two Ukrainian women, and volunteering at the Afghan Women’s Circle. It allowed me to see the generosity and gratitude of everyone involved with the Institute’s community.”

Maya, University of Minnesota | Class of 2027

“I loved seeing how passionately everyone at the Institute does their jobs. It was clear early on that everyone here works with a lot of dedication. The goal is to positively impact the lives of newly arrived refugees. I loved being able to help out with housing setups, play with the kids at the Afghan Women’s Circle, and meet so many incredible people. I’m very grateful I got this experience.”