Crossroads Youth Mentoring Program

By USCRI March 22, 2021

Assia Hamana and Alice Urban moved to Vermont at about the same time, but each came from very different worlds. Alice relocated from Washington, D.C. for a job in international development, and Assia arrived at the age of 13 from Chad as a refugee with her mother, father, brother, and sister. Since meeting through USCRI Vermont‘s Crossroads Youth Mentoring Program in early 2017, they’ve cultivated a meaningful Mentor/Mentee relationship that has evolved to become a deep and valuable friendship. Alice describes her inspiration for getting involved with Crossroads: “I moved to Vermont looking for community, and found a great connection to it as a volunteer Mentor with Crossroads.” Assia joined Crossroads as a way to help her better understand “the strange, new culture of the U.S.,” she said, and to find some comfort as she and her family settled into their new life in Winooski.

“One of the biggest challenges for me was the language barrier,” she said. After being paired with Alice, Assia worked on and practiced her English in frequent conversations with Alice during program activities and outside the mentoring circle. Shy at first, Assia began to open up to her new community and American culture as they explored new places during their Crossroads excursions. Assia relates that her new community was “feeling more like home” after she and Alice introduced their families to each other and started sharing more time together outside the program. “Our moms are friends now. Assia’s mother taught me how to make a delicious peanut sauce called sauce d’arrachide,” Alice recalled.

“I’ve learned so much about Assia and her family’s journey and their resilience, and I have a real appreciation for the optimism they have. Our community benefits so much when we share our experiences with other cultures,” Alice continued. Assia summed up her thoughts this way – “Vermont is a place where it feels like home, where I can I feel safe. This community has a big heart. And that’s a big part of why my friendship with Alice and the connection we’ve made through Crossroads is so satisfying.”

Interested in being a Mentor for our Crossroads: Where Cultures Meet Youth Mentoring Program? Adult mentors aged 21+ are needed to pair with refugee and immigrant youth between the ages of 13-20. A Mentor Training for interested applicants will be held in mid-April, with matches made in May. Mentoring requires a one year commitment. We will provide (4) 2 hour Mentor Training sessions on Zoom. To apply or for more details on the Crossroads program email Laurie Stavrand at [email protected].

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