Refugee Crisis Opens Doors to Serve Others

by Kathryn Sill, Public Relations Writer

As events abroad continue to displace thousands from their homes, one Cedarville University student, Jessica Schneider, has found herself on the front lines of the international refugee crisis.

Schneider, a senior social work major from Vienna, Austria, has been interning with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus, Ohio, during the current academic year.

“God has opened my eyes to the plight of refugees and given me a passion for working with them,” Schneider said. “Through recommendations from those around me, I was able to connect with CRIS and begin working with refugees.”


CRIS, which was founded in 1987, provides refugees with English classes, legal services, resettlement services, employment assistance and health and wellness screenings. Its mission is to “help refugees and immigrants reach and sustain self-sufficiency and achieve successful integration into the Central-Ohio community.”

The organization primarily serves refugees from Iraq, Nepal and Somalia. Schneider, who commutes to Columbus three times a week, has worked with refugees in a variety of roles.

Each Monday, she is assigned her tasks for the week, and each day comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Schneider has aided refugees with school enrollment, driven clients to doctor appointments, helped them find housing and assisted others through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children (WIC).

This semester, Schneider is helping to produce the CRIS newsletter and assemble a booklet that explains the WIC program to mothers of young children.

Through her work, she says she has gained a better understanding of the struggles that refugees face when coming to a new country.

“Oftentimes, refugees are discriminated against or not treated with patience and understanding,” Schneider said. “It has been hard to see how the recent crisis in Syria has changed people’s perceptions toward refugees.”

Despite many of the struggles she has seen, Schneider has also seen God’s loved displayed to refugees through CRIS staff, volunteers and other social services staff, which has inspired her as she works to make the lives of refugees a little easier.

“I have done my best to display God’s love by being present to the refugee clients, working through language barriers and advocating for them in instances where people try to take advantage of them,” she said.

“I would not be so willing to do these time consuming but necessary tasks if God had not given me this passion,” said Schneider. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve such a courageous and resilient population.”

For more information about CRIS and its work with refugees, visit www.crisohio.org.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,711 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.