USCRI Staff Share Cultural and Linguistic Knowledge

By USCRI August 15, 2023

A hallmark of the professional resettlement services at USCRI Erie is that staff members can offer cultural and language supports that reflect the current refugee populations. We are excited to welcome our new staff members, Abdullah Ahmadzai, Om Khadka, and Nataliia Sinelnikova.

Abdullah Ahmadzai arrived in Erie in July 2022 with his wife, infant daughter, and mother after being evacuated from Afghanistan and spending eight months in a temporary shelter in Abu Dhabi. He served as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan and speaks Dari, Pashto, Hindi, Farsi, and Urdu. Abdullah has a degree in Computer Applications from IIMT Engineering College in Uttar Pradesh, India, and now works in the Resettlement and Placement program at USCRI Erie, focusing on all the initial supports for refugees such as housing, cultural orientation, English classes, and medical screenings. He says, “I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth to be here…It’s a good feeling to help people who are new to the States.”

Om Khadka of Bhutan, came to Erie in March 2011 with his parents, wife, and five children after spending 20 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. “My home was green plastic supported by bamboo with no electricity.” He worked as a health supervisor in the camp, coordinating with U.N. agencies, and educating people to mitigate major health risks such as tuberculosis, encephalitis, and malnutrition. At USCRI Erie, he works in the Match Grant program, which prepares refugees for employment. Om also speaks Hindi, so he has been especially helpful with the Rohingya arrivals who have been coming from Myanmar (Burma).

Nataliia Sinelnikova arrived in December 2022 from Kharkiv, the hard-hit second largest city in Ukraine, located near the border with Russia. She came here with her husband and 6-year-old daughter through friends who were already here in Erie. Nataliia has a degree in Economics from Kharkiv National University of Economics and entrepreneurial experience having run businesses in agricultural pesticides and private postal delivery. Nataliia says, “I like to work with Ukrainians who don’t speak English yet, so I can help to make their life easier.”

We are so excited to see what Abdullah Ahmadzai, Om Khadka, and Nataliia Sinelnikov do!

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