Cultural Orientation Program Profile
Resettlement Support Center Austria is operated by HIAS Vienna.
Refugees: All refugees trained are religious minorities (Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Baha’is, Jews, Mandeans and Zoroastrians) from Iran. In Iran, male refugees worked as engineers, auto mechanics, and goldsmiths, as well as holding jobs in many other professions. Women were dental assistants, teachers, homemakers, and also worked in other fields. Other RSC Austria refugees were high school and university students. While course participants have a high average level of education and language skills, a few participants have had no formal education. Ages of refugees in CO class range from 14 to 80+.
Training Site: The RSC office in Vienna, Austria
Staff: The program is staffed by three full-time employees.
Course Particulars: The normal course length is 16 hours. Classes run 4 hours a day for 4 days, and are led by English-speaking trainers with interpretation into Farsi. Ideal class size normally varies between 20 and 25.
Course content is based on the Welcome to the United States guidebook, with topics adapted to the interests and needs of each class. Teachers survey students to determine past professions and special areas of concern for their arrival in the U.S.
Areas of special concern or relevance to participants include:
- Obtaining employment during the current financial crisis in the US
- Recertification resources in the United States
- Cultural adjustment and changing family roles
- Money management, and budgeting for needs versus wants
- The U.S. educational system and ESL resources
- U.S. residency rights and responsibilities
- Healthcare and medical insurance coverage in the United States
- Driving in the U.S. and obtaining a driver’s license
- The needs of elderly refugees
CO trainers and interpreters address these themes through guided discussions, role-playing and game activities, and use of realia (from the U.S. locales in which the majority of refugees are resettling.)