Mi primera semana

During my time with the Centro de Acogida a Refugiados de Vallecas (CAR), I have experienced how overwhelming the work really is. This week, I haven’t actually carried out any very essential tasks, since it is critical that all tasks be completed with accuracy. Since I have only really been in the center for a week, it has taken me a while to learn all the ins and outs of the center. It is essentially organized depending on the tasks of my coworker and supervisor. For example, there is a department or person responsible for the financial aspects, another who is concerned with the housing, and another preoccupied with making sure that residents of the center are attending their classes.

I work closely with my supervisor, who is the social worker of the center, and is mostly concerned with administrative tasks such as making sure all the needs of the refugees are being met, that their rights are respected, accounting for expenses made, scheduling important appointments, and welcoming new refugees into the center. In this one week, there were so many tasks to be accomplished but not enough time to do them. We would make a schedule of everything that had to be done but, often, something would come up that needed our immediate attention. For example, we would be working on some essential paperwork, such as accounting for expenses made for the residents, but then a resident would need our help or be asking for advice.

My first few days I was really learning how everything was done, especially since there are so many complicated policies of processes involved in the center. A lot of the work has to do with legal, medical, and administrative matters that I was having a lot of trouble understanding, but as this week went on, I found I was better able to keep track of everything. Because I was learning all these policies, I couldn’t actually fill out any paperwork yet. Rather, this week was a lot about learning how things work. Besides learning a large amount of material, I was able to aid some of the residents, especially when it came to translating. I only speak Spanish and English, which is helpful for our English-speaking residents, but some other residents speak Arabic or Russian, which no one understands. In some circumstances I was tasked to help translate literally using google translate since it is actually more tedious than one thinks, especially with all the errors that occur. However, the system is continuously improving as well as I am continuously learning.

In other circumstances, I was able to help coordinate the entry of new refugees, such as aid in initial interviews or help out with getting them settled in. I know I am missing the initial question of how I manage time but I think it is important to talk about my responsibilities and what I have been doing in the organization. To manage my time and balance all the tasks at hand, my supervisor and I started writing a daily schedule as soon as the work day started, in which we would write down everything that had to be done that day. We would firstly work on tasks that were urgent, which often included filing paperwork and making calls, which my supervisor would walk me through since there are so many legal aspects to it. As the day would go on, residents would often walk in the office asking for advice or needing to pick something up. This is largely where I would help, in which while my supervisor was doing paperwork or taking calls, I would assist the residents however I could.

We try and get all the paperwork done before we have to accompany residents to important appointments, especially as these are largely time consuming. If we don’t, we finish all the paperwork first and then attend residents. Finally, we do minor tasks, such as writing the information of certain residents that could technically wait for a bit. Essentially, the main way I have been managing my time is by recognizing priorities and what is most urgent based on the needs of residents and the center, in that way we do the big things first to end with the smaller aspects. Although it is often overwhelming, I rather enjoy the work, especially since I am busy all the time. The movement within the center is constant, in which there is always something new to do, which means something else I get to learn about the industry and how it works.