08 Jul 3.11 Social Events
Users of this online learning resource are responsible for connecting with government and local organizations to ensure access to relevant information on refugee sponsorship in their community.
Your group may wish to organize social outings with the refugee newcomers. However, it does not mean that these should be the only social options provided to them.
An important way to support refugee newcomers’ integration and self-sufficiency is to connect into a secure and supportive social network. This network may or may not include your group. While building a diverse network may take longer than the sponsorship period, it can be achieved if approached intentionally.
In preparing for the refugee newcomers’ arrival, you have already greatly expanded your network of contacts through talking to people about employment options, language courses, settlement services, cultural awareness, and so on. The refugee newcomers will also be busy developing their own set of relationships and contacts.
Organizing Social Events
Following the refugee newcomers’ arrival, your group may wish to hold an informal gathering where the people you are sponsoring can get to know the group better, and vice versa. A common example is holding a dinner at a group member’s home. Group members may also organize outings to local landmarks, festivals, concerts, or sporting events.
Some considerations and best practices for organizing social events:
1. Coordinate a social calendar, particularly early on in the sponsorship – This task may be shared with the group coordinators. There may be popular and useful applications – such as Google Calendar – for groups to use to coordinate schedules, not only for social events but other life activities such as school, work, and medical appointments. Moreover, creating a group chat through a channel like WhatsApp with the refugee newcomers helps to keep everyone on the same page with respect to activities.
2. Always respect the preferences and autonomy of the people you are sponsoring. They may or may not want to engage in certain activities, such as connecting with a community that speaks their language. They may (or may not) feel overwhelmed in engaging often with the sponsorship group for social events. Be attentive to how they feel and as a group respect their boundaries.
3. You might keep certain social events like dinners limited to the group members (or certain group members) and refugee newcomers. You may certainly decide to ask the people you are sponsoring if they want to invite other people. However, it may or may not be appropriate to invite people outside of the group. The key is to ask and respect what the refugee newcomers feel comfortable doing.
Social Events Scenario
Your sponsorship group welcomed the Senai family last month. This is your second sponsorship, following your first one with the Zerezghi family. Usually, you hold a dinner once a month separately for the Senai and Zerezghi families, but you decide to hold a joint dinner so the families can get to know each other.
During the potluck, Petros Senai is particularly affectionate with you. He tells you that you are his best friend and enjoys spending lots of time with you. You notice he does this when Ali Zerezghi, who is around the same age as Petros, is present.
The day after the potluck, Ali tells you that his feelings are hurt because you like Petros more than him.
How does considering power influence your understanding of the relationships between sponsorship group members and refugee newcomers in this scenario?
What other considerations are important in this scenario?
How could the sponsorship group address Ali’s concerns?
NOTE: the problems arising in this scenario do not mean groups should never hold a joint potluck with multiple newcomer families they are sponsoring. Rather, it is an example of unintended consequences of a sincere decision taken by a sponsorship group.
Check In: What would you do?
Thinking about the how this scenario relates to managing expectations, considering culture, considering power, and privacy and confidentiality, in your training journal give a brief description of how you would address this situation.