- by Matthew Reimann -

Matthew Reimann and friends standing under a tarp

Hello, I am Matthew Reimann. I am a political science major at Nazareth and part of the 3+3 pre-law program with Syracuse Law. This summer I had the pleasure of interning with the Catholic Family Center (CFC) in Rochester. In particular, I worked within the Refugee and Resettlement department with a focus around the Preferred Communities program. This experience was life changing in many ways.

My work with the Center revealed how there is no single story of a refugee. I believe it is immensely easy to listen to the mass generalizations that are constantly publicized across the media but these characterizations detach feelings of humanity from the millions who flee for their lives across the world. Through my work I learned the stories of the brave families and individuals and this experience truly opened my eyes to the diverse narratives of those that seek assistance in foreign lands. One of my main tasks at the center was to review a client’s file. Although this may seem like long, tedious, and trivial work, this instrumental task allowed me to take a peek into the lives of others which I discovered to be a humbling privilege. This assignment, in addition to attending a few home visits with my supervisor, fostered my learning in a way that no classroom could.

Additionally, my work with CFC educated me on the refugee and resettlement process within the U.S. I was shocked to learn of the expectations imposed on new arrivals within short periods of time. Many who flee for their lives are extremely vulnerable and do not receive adequate assistance. I feel that once one learns of the high expectations that refugees must adhere to or face consequences, it is impossible to say that this group of courageous individuals are abusing the system.

Finally, this mind-expanding opportunity revealed the vital nature of empathy. One of the first things I learned is that you do not know what others are currently going through and have gone through. Before casting judgment or losing patience, one must put themselves in the shoes of the other person and question how they would feel. This utilization of compassion is essential to all areas of life, especially when working to aid others. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity I was given this summer and would highly recommend that all take part in an internship that pushes them to see the world from a different perspective.

Experiences, such as my summer internship, is one of the many reasons I chose to attend Nazareth College. Unlike some other students, I am not a resident of the Rochester region. Before securing the internship with CFC, I believed my options were going to be limited to organizations near my home. This perception was wrong as Nazareth graciously allowed me to room on campus throughout the summer as well as provide me with funds through the SPARK grant. Without the generosity of permitting summer housing despite facing a national pandemic, along with allocating financial support, I would not have been able to work with a noble organization that seeks to make Rochester a better and more inclusive place. I have only been at Nazareth for a full year, but the tremendous and impactful opportunities that the college provides to all who look for them is why the school has quickly become my home.