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WOW fellow helps refugees find a new beginning

Photo/Mike Lovett

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18 (fourth from left)

Emilie Kahn-Boesel ’18 developed a greater sense of empathy for refugees this summer as a World of Work (WOW) Fellow.

Through her fellowship, Kahn-Boesel, who is from Needham, Massachusetts and majors in politics, worked at the International Institute of New England, where she helped refugees from around the world acclimate to American life and find jobs.

“I was so happy and thankful to have the opportunity of being a WOW fellow,” said Kahn-Boesel, who also minors in economics and education studies. “It definitely enhanced my experience at Brandeis and really opened my eyes to something new.”

Brandeis University's WOW fellowship program, which is administered by the Hiatt Career Center, is a competitive program that awards stipends to undergraduates who pursue summer internships with organizations that are not able to provide a salary.

The International Institute of New England, which is located in downtown Boston, welcomes refugees and helps immigrants along the pathway to citizenship.

During her time as a WOW fellow, Kahn-Boesel served as a Workforce Development intern, which meant she helped refugees apply for jobs, train for interviews, and improve their financial literacy.

“I was nervous about teaching at first, but eventually I was able to even lead a class about proper interview etiquette as well as one on American culture orientation,” she said.

Kahn-Boesel worked with refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Haiti, Cuba and El Salvador. All of them – Kahn-Boesel said – were simply grateful to escape dire situations at home and have a chance to start fresh.

“This experience was very rewarding,” Kahn-Boesel said. “I connected with these people on a personal level and I’m more passionate now about bringing refugees into the United States from other areas of the world.

“These people are fleeing terrible situations,” she added. “They just want jobs so they can have a new life.”

Kahn-Boesel was a Social Justice WOW recipient, which is sponsored by the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justicewhich was established by Jules Bernstein '57.

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