“I learned more and more about the mental struggles that immigrants endure when they decide to leave their homes.” – Tony, Volunteer

When I started my internship at Casa Marianella I did not know what to expect. My professional background is in cooking and working in restaurants, that was my first career. But at the ripe old age of 35 I decided to finish my degree in Mexican American Studies, with the hopes of continuing on to graduate school for Social Work. Eventually, I would like to be a social worker who works with immigrant families to get them transitioned and settled into U.S culture and social systems. So, when it came time to choose an internship, I was thrilled to discover there was an opportunity at Casa Marianella.

At Casa, their vision of helping immigrants find housing and services in not only Austin but in the U.S. lines up exactly with what I want to do.  When I arrived at Casa Marianella I found a team of passionate and committed individuals, who care deeply about serving people in a way that maintains their dignity and cherishes the cultures they have left back in their home countries. This is very important to me because I think that one of the biggest misconceptions in our society, around the topic of immigration, is that people who immigrate to another country are themselves social outcasts. But this is not the case. In talking to the staff and the residents at Casa Marianella I learned
more and more about the mental struggles that immigrants endure when they decide to leave their homes. Most of these individuals do not want to leave their homes, but are forced into that extreme decision by gangs, violence, persecution, violence and/or drugs.

One story that I’ll always remember is that of one gentleman who was a successful electrician back in the Congo. During our conversation he talked about his education and work back home and how he would not be allowed to apply any of that knowledge to finding work here in the states. We talked about how frustrating it is to move your family so far and not be able to use your skills to support them because other people won’t recognize the value of your education. My experience at Casa Marianella only increased my desire to work with immigrant families and to support these families in their search for a better life, their search to thrive and give their children access to more education and more opportunities.

The individuals and families I met are overall optimistic and want to work together with others in order to build a new life. This attitude inspires and encourages me. In the U.S so much emphasis is put on what kind of life you can build for yourself, or what kind of life is handed down to you from your father. But many other countries and societies value working together to build something beautiful for the community, they value taking care of each other, they value unity. This great example of community building, team dynamic is what I found at Casa Marianella. Not only in the resources they provide to their residents, but also in the way they run their organization.

I am thankful for my time learning and growing with the staff and residents at Casa and I hope to continue my relationship with them after this internship ends, in volunteer or professional capacity.

Originally published by Casa Marianella: Source