Cultural Orientation Program Profile
Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Africa is operated by Church World Service (CWS). Established in October 2007, the program offers Cultural Orientation to refugees in Nairobi itself, as well as throughout Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Refugees: The program's caseload consists primarily of refugees aged 15 and older from Somalia, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda. The education levels of these refugees vary considerably. Some have attended university while others have had no schooling. Children and youth are also offered Cultural Orientation in some locations.
Training Sites: Trainings are conducted in camps and urban centers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In recent years, trainings have been conducted in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, DRC/ Congo, Chad, Ghana, Mozambique, Gambia, Gabon, Cameroon, and Malawi.
Course Particulars: Cultural orientation is conducted over three 6-hour days for most populations, and over five 6-hour days for Congolese refugees and those in Chad. For Somali youth ages 15 – 26, an additional six-hour day of cultural orientation is provided. The average class size for all cultural orientation sessions is 25 individuals. Classes are also conducted for children (ages 6-11) and youth (ages 12-17) in Chad, Kenya and Rwanda. Unaccompanied refugee minors participate in a specialized training for 3 hours.
The course content is based on the Objectives and Indicators for Overseas Cultural Orientation and supplemented by the Welcome to the United States guidebook and video, and by the Cultural Orientation Student Workbook developed by CWS/RSC Africa. Depending on the needs of the participants, certain topics receive more emphasis than others. For example, those coming from camps will likely require more training regarding housing.
A variety of training methods and training materials are used to encourage active participation and meet the learning needs of a diverse population. Trainers use activities, role plays, debates, discussions, and lectures, and videos as well as verbal and pictorial visual aids. In the Nairobi and Addis Ababa Transit Centres, the classrooms are fitted with working model kitchens and airplane bathrooms for practical hands-on experience. A resource center is available in Nairobi, as well, for self-directed study.
When possible, cultural orientation is conducted in the native languages of the participants. Mostly, CO is conducted in English and interpreted using local interpreters.
Staff Profile: The cultural orientation staff, based in Nairobi, consists of a Coordinator, Program Specialist, Program Assistant, two CO Supervisors, a Curriculum Development Specialist, and 19 Trainers. The Coordinator is an American citizen with years of senior management experience in domestic resettlement. The Curriculum Development Specialist is an American citizen with a background in education, refugee processing, and domestic resettlement. The Trainers are Kenyan nationals with experience in intercultural communication and education/training. A majority have been to the U.S. for study or work, CO Trainers Exchanges, refugee escorts, or personal travel. They have a collective proficiency in English, Kiswahili, and Somali.