CIPA fellows reflect on work with Jewish Family Service Consulting Team

In this blog post, we hear from first-year fellows Amal Aun, Tianyue Xu, Yixin Zhang, and Egiimaa Tsolmonbaatar, members of a consulting team in the course Consulting for Nonprofit and Government Organizations who created an Emergency Preparedness Plan for refugee and immigrant communities in Buffalo, NY. Through their research, interviews, and discussions with stakeholders, they reflect on the value of the experience and how they feel it has helped their professional and academic careers.


Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner, Lecturer, Course Instructor for PADM 5900 Consulting for Nonprofit and Government Organizations on the course and project:

“This course provides students with the opportunity to put into practice skills from their academic and professional experience to address policy or management problems for real-world clients in government or nonprofit agencies. Students work with clients in small consulting teams to answer a well-defined problem posed by their client. Since the consulting projects chosen for this class come directly out of need by the client, the work the student put in is used and applied – and makes a difference.”

Clifford Chen, CIPA Fellow Class of 2017, Teaching Assistant for PADM 5900 Consulting for Nonprofit and Government Organizations :

During my time at CIPA, I have had the opportunity to both oversee and participate on consulting teams working with government and nonprofit clients. It has been a great learning experience watching my peers take unique approaches to address policy and management issues. Over the past several semesters, teams have engaged in projects to assist refugee communities, improve health care delivery, and preserve local ecosystems, among others. Under the instruction of highly experienced practitioners, this course helps fellows acquire professional skills and experience while generating positive change in the community.”

Amal Aun, (center in the photo, below) on the class and project:
“As students in CIPA, we frequently have wonderful opportunities to share experiences and learn from people from different backgrounds and cultures. This consulting project is the manifestation of this diversity. We are a team of international students from three different countries that provided consulting services to clients from over 100 different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Being able to provide this service to refugees from around the world does not only enrich us on academic and professional levels, but also on a very deep personal level. With the current complicated international climate surrounding the refugee struggle, this group of CIPA students is able to make one small, but positive, step toward protecting marginalized communities in cases of emergencies.”

Tianyue Xu (bottom middle in photo, below) about the Refugee Health Fair:

“On April 26th, my teammates and I attended the 3rd Annual Refugee Health Fair hosted by Jewish Family Service in Buffalo and it was quite impressive. We received warm welcome from Maria Apple Domingo (New Americans Director at the Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County (JFS)) and Max Mack-Hardiman (Intern Coordinator), and tremendous help from many local interpreters. Through conversations with immigrant communities new to America, we formulated a deeper understanding about their new life in the United States. Our interviews were aided by the help of 5 interpreters who offered their help to guide non-English speakers in this fair. Our interviewees came from different countries including Myanmar, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, each one of them provided us with helpful information and valuable opinions about their community and life. It was amazing to have them share their stories with us. With the first-hand information we collected, we could make more targeted emergency preparedness plan for the new immigrant communities. We hope that our efforts could bring tangible benefits to these optimistic and hard-working people.”

Yixin Zhang (left in photo, below) on the Community Engagement Showcase:
“The Community Engagement Showcase was a great experience for our team. From the preparation sessions of the poster to the day of the presentation, we built a structure of our work and further developed the understanding of the project. Through networking with other students, faculty, staff and community partners, we also learned a lot about their practices and experiences. The best thing about the Community Engagement Showcase is that we were able to share our work with people from different university departments and sectors of the  community. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to refocus people’s attention on the refugee struggle, both outside the US and locally, so that we can work together towards change.”

Egiimaa Tsolmonbaatar (second to right in photo, below) on the project:

Through our consulting class and the experience working with our client, we have been digesting valuable social learning skills that cannot be taught in a conventional classroom setting. The uniqueness of the project lies in the ability to interact with people from multiple cultures and languages. It made me genuinely interested in understanding what is going on in other parts of the world. I was personally inspired after hearing about these immigrants challenges and learning just how resilient and capable these communities or people are. I believe that future CIPA students who will partake in this project will benefit professionally and personally from this empowering experience.”

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