Volunteer with Refugee Familes

The Cultural Companions Program


IMG_0061 (1)The Cultural Companions program pairs a community member and an IRIS refugee adult client to meet regularly outside of the IRIS office (typically either in the home of the refugee and/or the volunteer). Cultural Companions should be prepared to practice reciprocal hospitality and actively seek to learn from their Refugee Companion rather than seeking to be a tutor or mentor, although previous ESOL tutoring experience comes in handy! Companions can also choose to serve with a friend or family member and be paired with a refugee couple or family.

Refugees chosen to participate in this program often speak little to no English and may struggle with health or family issues that keep them from meeting people outside their home, or may simply desire to meet and spend time with a friend who is more familiar with America than they are.

Goals for the program are to practice conversational English, exchange cultural backgrounds and ideas, explore outside the refugees’ home and visit places of interest in New Haven, and ultimately, build a lasting friendship. For this reason, a Cultural Companion must commit to meeting with their Refugee Companion for at least three hours per week for a minimum of six months with the hope that you may continue meeting if your time together has gone well. This time commitment is extremely important, and we ask that you carefully consider whether your schedule can fit such a commitment.

To learn more, click HERE to read our Cultural Companion handbook.

To apply, click HERE to fill out the Cultural Companion application.