I’m sure many of you are aware of the situation evolving over the past month regarding the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan people. Personally, it has been uplifting and relieving to see Americans express a relative unity of understanding, empathy, and support for these individuals, who have experienced so much. I’m sure many of you, like myself, have been wondering what you can do to help. I’m excited to share with you all that Danielle Goldsmith (LCD consultant and facilitator) and I have taken on a new project to support the International Rescue Committee through putting together a mini-Learning Cluster focused on employment transition.

As we work with the IRC, I want to periodically share what we are learning as we apply the model to this challenge.

Below, I start by sharing a bit about the origins of the project and some initial learnings.

The Origin Story

While visiting a colleague, I was able to see firsthand the impact of the Afghan evacuee crisis. This colleague works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and was able to give me a behind-the-scenes look at what is going on, the scale of the effort, and the gravity of it. The more we talked, the more I couldn’t get the question off my mind: What can I do to help the most? Or paraphrasing Meg Wheatley, “Out of all that you could do, what is worthy of your perseverance?”

One thing my colleague shared was that those fortunate to leave Kabul will resettle in unfamiliar places to begin a new life. In addition to the refugees’ more apparent needs such as housing, food, and clothing, they must eventually seek employment.

When a topic is outside of your day-to-day, if you’re like me, sometimes you think about it at odd hours, after everything else is said and done. For me, the inspiration hit at 3 am and led me down a rabbit hole of an idea. Although organizations like the IRC are doing a lot around establishing corporate partnerships, case workers, and employment specialists, there’s still more that could be done to empower the evacuees themselves around employment transition.

I realized the serendipity of a few things from my background:

  • I had past job coaching exposure with a local Atlanta volunteer organization and understood that there’s a time pressure for refugees to find employment
  • I’m a certified career coach. Yet, I still wondered is there more I could do than one-on-one support?
  • Then lightning struck! There’s another book I co-authored with (guess who!?) my dear friend Lisa MD Owens – literally, THE textbook on how to find a job
  • And, finally: I co-created the LCD model with Lisa and today, I’m leading a team of LCD consultants that can upgrade a textbook into learning assets tailored to personas

What if I, with the help of my team, could create a mini-resource to empower evacuees to learn about the US job market, prepare resumes and for interviews from the leading content we already have? This resource could empower and accelerate their capability while they are waiting for the one-on-one support they will receive.

LCD Model Learning #1: You are a part of every work you create. As a Learning Cluster creator, your point of view influences the strategic choices and direction you take with a project. We are all multi-faceted. Our default might be to think of how we can help through the easiest or most obvious dimension, but sometimes stepping back and considering more holistically who you are and how you can serve creates a deeper answer that fills you with ideas and passion.

LCD Model Learning #2: Upgrading Existing Assets is a powerful and meaningful approach. One of Lisa and I’s first most popular blogs on ATD was “Is Reading a Book A Modern Learning Method?”. The answer is a resounding yes – especially when you apply our Nine Elements of Modern Learning tool from the Upgrade Action. Here I see it again – the power of taking a textbook and turning it into a cluster is a great possibility for reusing and repurposing, rather than discarding or layering.

LCD Model Learning #3: The strategic framework offered by LCD model is what makes it happen. However, it’s not just as simple as taking the textbook and turning it into any old set of learning assets. We are thinking about this particular learning challenge with these particular learners to choose. I’ll be sharing more about how we are doing this in the future.

Emotionally, this proposition hits the mark deeply for me. We all know that job hunting is challenging all on its own. As the daughter of immigrant parents, I know how hard it is to transfer skills and expertise from home countries into a new country. Now, on top of that, imagine coming to a new country by circumstance, after significant traumas and challenges.

It feels personally important to me to help evacuees make a positive emotional transition, along with the physical needs, through a facet I can help with, namely career development.

This positive emotional transition in my view is characterized by providing a path that helps them:

  1. Regain Autonomy/Independence. In this difficult time of transition, the more we can give a sense of control and power of their next steps and future, rather than co-dependence or reliance, the better for their wellbeing.
  2. Maximize Their Potential Here. Many individuals have education and expertise from their home country. Can you imagine the feelings of defeat and difficulty if someone told you to start from scratch all over again in your adult life? Avoiding underemployment requires knowing how to navigate the system here – and for refugees, to navigate that system quickly. And, the bonus is of course that we, as a country and economy, have individuals meaningfully contributing to the jobs and careers they are best suited for.
  3. Accelerate the Resilience and Psychological Wellbeing. I often reference the Neuroleadership Institute’s work on the SCARF model to create a towards, rather than away, state neurologically. The more we can help people find Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness, the more we help create a healthy context for positive engagement with this new community of Americans.

While handling the stresses of relocation, refugees should find comfort in knowing they can still reach their potential and strive for long-term career success despite the odds. The skills they have learned overseas should hold value here.

I’ve obtained the rights from our publisher and over the past month, have identified pilot field offices and enrolled into the project. Hopefully, we keep building momentum in this trans-organizational project!

Along the way, I’m going to be sharing what we learn and what we struggle with – and maybe even some opportunities for anyone interested to join along the effort.

If you’re doing or have done anything at all to support, please let me know. I would love to keep hearing these, because it’s such a boost for me to hear!

P.S. I’m learning something new every day: There are many types of refugees – this is not a monolithic term. In this situation, many are SIVs (or Special Immigrant Visas), those who have helped the US military during the war and have applied for this humanitarian visa. Others are asylum seekers or Afghan parolees. You can learn more here.

If you’re looking for ways to help, here’s some articles that you can reference: