Connecting Culture: A trip to the Frontier Culture Musuem

Connecting Culture: A trip to the Frontier Culture Museum!

July 26 2023

About two weeks ago, CWS Harrisonburg’s Integration Specialist Jean Claude led the cultural orientation class on a field trip to the Frontier Culture Museum. Every other week of the four-week long cultural orientation program, the class goes on a trip outside of the classroom. “We want refugees to adapt in this place [and] to get integrated into the community of where they live,” Jean Claude said.

A great way to integrate newcomers in the area was to explore the Frontier Culture Museum. “The Frontier Culture Museum in Stanton is a nice place for them to understand ‘I'm not the only refugee here.’ This is the journey of 1,000s of people since the 1600s...and they kind of connect with these stories,” Jean Claude explained. For many of the participants in the program, excursions like this one allow recent refugees and immigrants to feel more at home in Harrisonburg. Jean Claude said that the trip helped the group to “get out of their comfort zone” and expel the “fear of [here] not being their place.”

Besides familiarizing themselves and learning more about the community, cultural orientation students can practice their English on these trips. Jean Claude explained, “For some of them this [English] is not a second language. It is a third or fourth language. When we take them outside [to see something in the community] this is one one way to let them speak, practice their English, and learn something new.” Besides practicing a new language, there's the other aspect of simply enjoying time with one another. One of the most rewarding parts of the experience for Jean Claude was “seeing them [the class] smiling, going outside, meeting new people…and even interacting with the animals there” he said.

As a whole, cultural orientation facilitates the adjustment into a new culture for many refugees and immigrants. When newcomers interact with their community, they “discover new things” which acts as a stepping stone to “the purpose of everything we do, [which] is to see them become self-sufficient,” Jean Claude said. CWS Harrisonburg is incredibly grateful for the contributions of Jean Claude and volunteers to the cultural orientation program. Additionally, CWS is so proud of the time and effort the class has put in, and the CWS Harrisonburg office can’t wait to see what they accomplish next.