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The first day I settled in Rhode Island, I explored Downtown Providence. I stumbled upon a quaint bookstore dedicated to the works of horror fiction. The majority of the rather unique bookstore was devoted to H.P Lovecraft, a renowned sci-fi author. As the shop assistant tells me, Lovecraft was an incredibly influential writer, but also, he was born and raised in Providence, RI.

Photograph by Van Nguyen
Downtown Providence


Considering H.P Lovecraft’s ties with Providence versus my new and tenuous connections, it seemed fitting to start my blog with a quote of his. But the quote is also relevant to why I am here in Providence — to work for Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. Dorcas International works with immigrants and refugees who are fearful about their status here in the United States.

But from what I’ve seen here so far, their anxieties are lessened a bit when case managers, educators, and administrators at Dorcas International take the time and effort to get to know them. They warmly ask these vulnerable individuals to elaborate — not about their past or current livelihood — but about the dreams and hopes that had motivated them to make the arduous journey to America.

Photograph by Van Nguyen
Photo Exhibit of various Rhode Island immigrant and refugee stories
Photograph by Van Nguyen
Photo Exhibit of various Rhode Island immigrant and refugee stories

I’ve been here for a week now and my first task has been to start researching the economic mobility of the immigrant population in Rhode Island. So far, it’s been a daunting task. Regarding immigration and refugee populations, there is little research done solely on Rhode Island over a long period of time. Also, there is not a clear method to measuring the impact that local and state governments have on the daily lives of immigrants and refugees in this ocean state.

Admittedly,  I feel both prepared and unprepared. On one hand, I am ready to approach these issues from a policy perspective I’ve developed and honed. But on the other hand, I am fearful of making mistakes and analyzing the research incorrectly. There’s a real world implication to my work, unlike the papers I’ve done in classes and workshops. Any report I turn into my supervisor could be made into decisions that directly impact the immigrant populations.

But aside from these anxieties, I’ve met wonderful people here so far. My supervisor and the leaders of other departments within the organization possess extraordinary passion for human rights and a compassion that I often fear could get lost in large organizations. Amidst the complexity of my work, seeing their dedication has really helped me better define my goals and abilities. It’s given me the right motivation to keep moving forward.