By Michael Meyers
Michael Meyers is a finance junior at the Eller College.
During my first semester at Eller, I have been able to help accomplish something that not all college students are able to do: plan an entire event from planning to execution. Throughout this semester, I have had the privilege of working with fellow team members John Beeler, Alec Chen, Lauren Preble, Travis Hicks, and Tiana Soto in planning the Arizona Resource Connection’s Fourth Annual Give Back Kick Back. This annual “street party with a purpose” is a product of the ARC and its founder, Dr. Cindi Gilliland, who created the student organization as a means of raising awareness for the refugee population in Tucson and assisting them with organization funded programs to raise their employability skills as they begin their new life in America. Along with local refugee initiatives, the ARC has also helped globally by building a drinking well in Abul, Sudan, and funding the construction of a school house in Abul; the completion of which is the primary fundraising goal of this year’s Give Back Kick Back.
The process of planning, marketing, fundraising, and executing an event is a rewarding process, and I have personally gained a lot of real world experience in doing so. With this real world experience also came a profound sense of appreciation for the refugees living in Tucson and abroad. During the course of creating this event, I was able to volunteer with Catholic Social Service’s Immigration sector by performing mock interviews for the sector’s refugee clients as a means of preparing them for job interviews and American customs. Meeting individual refugees and hearing their stories is something I will forever remember. The incredible amount of courage it takes to start a new chapter of one’s life in an entirely new country often accompanied by a strong language barrier is difficult to comprehend. Hearing the individual stories of the refugees I was able to meet gave me insight into the world that I did not have before. I saw life from another perspective, a perceptive that most people in the world would never want to experience; one where the typical daily expectations of living in America are far from what is reality.
Witnessing the courage these refugees possessed and listening to the life-threatening difficulties that every one of them faced in their home country allowed me to see how mesmerizingly strong a person can be. With all the negativity that has occurred in these refugees’ lives, they are more positive than the majority of people I know, and that is something that continues to amaze and inspire me. Through my first-hand experience with the Arizona Resource Connection and the refugee it assists, I have learned to better appreciate the things I have in life and the initiatives that the ARC and other refugee-assisting organizations utilize to ease the burden on those who must uproot their lives and begin again. Being a part of the ARC and the Give Back Kick Back team is something that has made my first semester at Eller a rewarding one. Not only did I learn real world experience related to the marketing and planning of a large event, but also met some truly inspiring people that are beginning a courageous new life in America. I have grown both professionally and personally through my experience with this organization. And there is not much else one could ask for in their University experience.
I would like to invite all those who are reading to join my team and I, along with the Arizona Resource Connection and its members in raising awareness for a group of people that have more strength than many could imagine. The Give Back Kick Back will be held in Geronimo Plaza (University Blvd.) on Thursday, November 14th from 5:00-8:00 PM. Please come help spread awareness for the refugee population in Tucson and abroad, and experience what the Arizona Resource Connection is all about!