By Ashleigh Bugg
Global migration is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Millions of neighbors are on the move due to political persecution, natural disasters from climate change, sustained war and conflict, food and water insecurity, and ethnic cleansing based on racism and xenophobia.
To address issues of global migration and poverty, CBF has created a two-year apprenticeship for recent graduates and retirees called the Global Service Corps. GSC members will assist current CBF career personnel in their respective fields.
One GSC position, with CBF personnel Kim and Marc Wyatt, will welcome refugees and migrants who need temporary housing in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hannah Turner, a recent graduate from James Madison University, will fill this new position.
Turner, who studied public policy and administration with a minor in humanitarian affairs, says she was drawn to jobs that worked with refugees and immigrants. “It’s a population I’m passionate about,” Turner said. “My parents had put in my ear about how CBF was oriented toward positions in that sphere, and I decided to apply.”
Turner grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Her father was her pastor in a Southern Baptist church, and her mother works as a community missionary with the local homeless population. However, she says CBF field personnel regularly attended her church, and her congregation often supported CBF initiatives.
“Seeing how my family and CBF personnel worked and served in their communities instilled something within me,” Turner explained.
The GSC program is resourced using a partnership model with CBF providing training, support and health benefits for all GSC personnel. In her role, Turner must raise her financial support for two years. She will need money for housing as well as a small living stipend. However, she does not need to raise the entire amount before being commissioned and beginning her job.
Despite the global pandemic, Turner believes she can still support the Wyatts’ work which includes English as a second language class and a daycare readiness program. Her team will also support the Welcome House, which provides housing for recent arrivals to the United States, allowing them to adjust until they can secure a more permanent place to live.
For Turner, helping new arrivals is vital to her identity as a Christian.
“I think this population is isolated at times,” Turner said. “The way that I read the story of Jesus in the Bible is that Jesus inserts himself into those places; he becomes a friend; he listens and is loving, kind and patient.”
Turner maintains that Christ would be in immigrant and refugee communities, learning from people and being in relationship with them. She also offers tips to CBF members for welcoming new neighbors to their communities.
“The first step is learning more and educating yourself about refugee and immigrant policies and issues,” she said. “Things that other people don’t have to think about because they don’t directly affect them.”
Turner also believes that the global pandemic offers a unique opportunity to self-educate. A host of immigrant and refugee issues are at the forefront of current legislation. The U.S. asylum program is at risk; undocumented students and neighbors are unable to secure residency and citizenship; and undocumented essential workers are unable to receive health benefits or stimulus aid. “Stepping into uncomfortable positions of unlearning and relearning things is a very powerful thing you can do when you can’t be in physical contact with people,” she said.
The GSC position offers recent graduates and retirees the opportunity to be a part of service initiatives with mentors who have been working in the field for years.
“I think I am most excited about being a part of a team that has a similar posture related to certain populations and has the heart and passion for it as well,” Turner said.
She looks forward to meeting people as much as current health protocols allow. “I want to get to know people, learn from them and be in community with them,” she said. “I think that’s what I’m most excited about.”
For those interested in applying to the program, Turner advises them to investigate the role further. “If you feel even a little nudge or interest, explore it in greater detail,” she said. “I tend to overthink things; but I’ve learned you don’t get all the greenlights. You have to decide and trust. I would say go for it.”