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walking with those seeking a new home: current JV reflection

“Voices from the Northwest” is a new blog series featuring Jesuit Volunteer reflections on JV life, lessons from the year, and the vital service JVs provide. Follow along with us in this story series and learn from incredible folks like current JV Eliana, supporting immigrants seeking legal support in the Northwest.


Half-way through my time as a college undergrad, I recognized that standing alongside those whose voice so often goes unheard was my passion. It was a passion that I yearned to live out daily, and it led me to pursue a year of service as a Jesuit Volunteer upon graduation. I was drawn to JVC Northwest’s four core values: social and ecological justice, simple living, community, and spirituality and to discern a placement that allowed bringing strength and volume to those unheard voices.

This year, I serve as the Intake Coordinator for an organization dedicated to serving low-income immigrants from around the world. As Intake Coordinator, I interview potential clients to help screen for immigration protections available under the law, including special protections for immigrant crime victims, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) applicants, and those eligible for family-based immigration relief. In spite of all of the challenges of the position, I have learned to appreciate the 144 cases I manage at any given time, the steep learning curve that is immigration law, and the never-ending phone calls from potential clients seeking relief. Regardless of the case, the strength and courage of my clients is admirable, and their resilience encourages me to keep pressing forward in the face of adversity.

Not every case I handle has a happy ending, however: screening those seeking relief, but having to let them know that they’re not eligible for any immigration benefits; feeling powerless and defeated after listening to heartbreaking stories of families fleeing persecution, and knowing their claim isn’t strong enough to meet our nation’s strict asylum requirements. Can you imagine how difficult it is to tell potential clients that we aren’t going to be able to represent them, and knowing they will have to navigate a complex legal system on their own? Nonetheless, feeling powerless is a constant reminder that there will always be room for progress and battles against injustice to be won. So, to say my experience as a Jesuit Volunteer is humbling would be an understatement.

In recent days, a greater sense of fear has gripped our clients. I feel their anxiety in our office and at our community education presentations, questioning what they should do and wondering if they are going to be deported and separated from their loved ones. Many of our clients have loved ones whose immigrant visa processing has been suspended and their entry into the United States prohibited. These individuals have been waiting patiently to be reunified with their families here in the United States.

I greatly admire the work I witness and contribute to every day, and I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to play a role in such an incredible organization. I am continuously reminded of the importance of standing and fighting alongside underserved communities and I am grateful to JVC Northwest for partnering with organizations across the Northwest dedicated to serving such communities.

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Upcoming Virtual Events

Get to Know JVC Northwest

Tuesday, September 28 | 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT 

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A. 

How to Make Your Application Stand Out

Wednesday, October 6 | 6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT

How can you position yourself to be a strong candidate for JVC Northwest? We’ll share tips and tricks to help you navigate the application, interview, matching, and placement process. We’ll also leave plenty of time for Q+A.  

Zayna Abusada

JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

Catch Zayna at an Event Near You!


9/8/2021Saint Mary’s College (IN)VirtualFall Career Fair
9/9/2021University of Notre DameVirtualFall Career Fair
9/13/2021University of DaytonIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021University of Notre DameIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021Saint Joseph’s UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/15/2021Saint Louis UniversityVirtualAll Majors Career Expo
9/16/2021University of DaytonVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Creighton UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Georgetown UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/20/2021University of Wisconsin-MadisonIn PersonPublic Service Fair
9/21/2021Whitman CollegeVirtualCareer & Internship Fair
9/21/2021University of San FranciscoVirtualCareer Premiere: Service Careers
9/22/2021Le Moyne CollegeVirtualFall Job and Internship Fair
9/22/2021Marquette UniversityIn PersonFall Career & Internship Fair
9/23/2021University of IowaIn PersonHelping, Health, & Public Service Industry Career Fair
9/23/2021Boston CollegeVirtualFall Career & Internship Fair
9/23/2021Xavier UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/29/2021Santa Clara UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair Bash
9/29/2021Fairfield UniversityVirtualFall Career & Internship Fair
9/29/2021DePaul UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair (Day 1 Only)
9/30/2021Providence CollegeVirtualFall Career Expo
9/30/2021Saint Martin’s UniversityVirtualInternship & Service Fair


10/5/2021Pepperdine UniversityVirtualCareers with Social Impact Fair
10/6/2021Saint Mary’s College (CA)VirtualCareer & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Loyola New Orleans/UNOVirtualJoint Fall Job & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Spring Hill CollegeVirtualBadger Career Expo Day 2
10/13/2021Gonzaga UniversityIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
10/13/2021Ohio UniversityVirtualGovernment, Nonprofit, and Service Fair
10/16/2021Ignatian Family Teach-InVirtualBreakout Session and Exhibiting
10/18/2021University of DaytonVirtualBeyond UD Fair: Post Graduate Volunteer Programs