Program Profile of the Month: International Rescue Committee in San Diego


      This visit with the International Rescue Committee in San Diego was back in early February, before health precautions were necessary.  The International Rescue Committee in San Diego currently has limited opportunities to get involved and support the program.  See their website for more details at 



On a Wednesday morning participants are gathered in the Vocational ESL class in El Cajon, one of the two locations for the International Rescue Committee in San Diego. This is a six-week class that meets Monday through Friday to help newer arrivals understand the basics of communicating in the workplace, filling out a job application, putting together a resume, and preparing for an interview. 

This particular morning, adult students are learning how to engage in a greeting, share personal information (phone number, location of residence), fill out the top section of a job application, and write their initials.  The teacher, Danielle Choi, facilitates a practice round of  greeting each other and shaking hands.  This group of refugees are all involved in the resettlement program. These 10 students are from Afghanistan, Syria, Congo, and Haiti.

The Vocational English as a Second Language Program not only teaches about language, but also readiness language skills, how to use public transportation, safety and wellness, and financial literacy. These participants will be able to fill out a job application, answer interview questions, and will participate in a mock interview.  The goal is to help the learners become self-sufficient.


 What do you want people to know about your program?

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. In more than 40 countries and in 26 U.S. cities, the dedicated teams provide clean water, shelter, health care, education and empowerment support to refugees and displaced people. 

The International Rescue Committee in San Diego provides literacy services for refugee parents and youth.  Programs include English language instruction, life skills training, family literacy, and home visits. Programs are located in East San Diego and City Heights.

Programs and Resources:

  • Resettlement: Meeting the basic needs for food, shelter, health services and legal rights in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
  • Center for Financial Opportunity: Employment, Career Development, Vocational ESL and Microenterprise services (as well as financial education) to help families move out of poverty and achieve lasting financial self-sufficiency.
  • Immigration and Citizenship Services: Strengthening communities and preparing individuals to participate fully in American society.
  • Youth Programs: Providing educational and developmental opportunities that build the essential academic, personal and social skills needed to succeed.
  • Food Security and Farming: Finding lasting solutions to food insecurity, health problems, and economic hardship through community-based food and farming projects.


How can people get involved and support the program?

There are many ways to participate.  Donations for classroom and mock interviews are appreciated.  You can volunteer to help in the classroom and in the Vocational ESL program.  

Corporate volunteers are also welcomed to participate in supporting the International Rescue Committee in San Diego city.  See the list below for other ways to get involved:

Donate: Make a tax-deductible financial contribution online or by mail.

Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see the current list of volunteer opportunities here.

Internship Opportunities: See the current list of internship opportunities here.

Items Needed for Refugees: The IRC of San Diego is collecting specific items for newly arrived refugees. Learn what they are currently accepting.

Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees, get your corporation involved, and connect the IRC to affordable housing options.


Contacts and Links:

International Rescue Committee

5348 University Ave., #205

                                                             San Diego, CA 92105                                                            

                                                           (619) 641-7510 ext. 303                                                         

(619) 641-7520 fax

Deputy Director, Programs: Heather Hansen



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