Luciano Legnini is a student at VCU Globe and has worked with ReEstablish Richmond this past semester and would like to share one of her experiences
Richmond is the city of a thousand international homes. It has people coming from all over the globe who leave their home in search of better futures. Located in the heart of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) consists of a large population of international students who leave home in pursuing a higher education in Richmond. Although not nearly in the same circumstances, many refugees from around the world are also coming to Richmond in hope of building their home away from home. With the support of many partnering agencies, including ReEstablish Richmond, refugee families are able to establish roots and become self-sufficiency living in the city.
One of the many services that ReEstablish Richmond provide is a special program where the two populations, refugee and international students, coming together as one. The program where international students volunteer as soccer facilitators to help refugee children find an outlet, be healthy and make new friends by playing sports. ReEstablish Richmond and their volunteers teach the children basic soccer skills, teambuilding skills, and simply have fun. The program is held once a week on Wednesday evenings at Harold Macon Ratcliffe Elementary School.
One of the volunteers from VCU, Said Mansor Sadat, who is an international student from Afghanistan, claims that this program is “potentially life-changing”. Sadat explains, “While I was teaching these kids the game I love so dearly, I have learned a lot from them too! They have taught me the sport as more than a game, but more so, learning this universal language that can be communicated anywhere in the world.” Sadat also speaks of the other activities where he and the children make blankets for winter. He recalls a moment of joy as the children gave him a blanket that they made for him.
Through supporting the refugee population in learning, team working, and having sportsmanship, ReEstablish Richmond is building a brighter future not only for refugees in Richmond but for the future for an inclusive community.