In the past year, like many resettlement organizations, the African Community Center of Denver (ACC-Denver) transitioned to remote Cultural Orientation. During the process, they also tackled a commonly reported challenge: balancing the delivery of effective Cultural Orientation with other resettlement services.
ACC-Denver, an affiliate of the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), recruited a Master of Social Work intern for a year-long commitment through a partnership with the University of Denver. Maria Farrier, ACC-Denver’s Community Engagement Coordinator, explained in a recent webinar hosted by ECDC how this approach allows ACC-Denver’s staff an increased ability to focus on other resettlement services, while simultaneously increasing the attention provided to Cultural Orientation.
Populations Served: Clients from 26 countries, primarily Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq.
Mode: Drawing on a strengths-based approach, ACC-Denver’s Community Engagement Intern Mikaela Dalton conducts an intake orientation to determine what method of remote Cultural Orientation is best for participants. Based on responses, participants may receive Cultural Orientation telephonically, through WhatsApp, or using Chromebooks with hotspots and Google Meet.
Structure: When using Chromebooks, ACC-Denver modified the features to minimize login requirements for participants and ensure automatic connection to the internet using hotspots. Chromebooks are also pre-programmed with specific websites, including Google Meet with a permanent, secure link for participants to join sessions and to access the CORE Resettlement Navigator website.
The Google Meet setup used by ACC-Denver allows participants to join without needing to dial-in or have an email address. During Cultural Orientation, the Cultural Orientation provider can share the screen and engage participants with videos and other activities.
This format included six hours of instruction typically broken into three two-hour sessions. The virtual instruction is supplemented with in-person activities on a case-by-case basis, including public transit orientation or grocery shopping assistance.
In looking to the future, ACC-Denver is exploring the possibility of leveraging the advantages of in-person and remote Cultural Orientation through a hybrid model, while also continuing to develop digital literacy support for clients.
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