Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Shaina: You mean how does a girl from LA end up here? I still ask myself that…I actually came to DC last Fall for a job. I was in Philly for my masters and then basically landed my dream job here. You don’t say no to that. DC it is!
Aaron: So you work for HIAS. What kinds of things do they do?
Shaina: HIAS is a special organization in that it not only is a Jewish organization, but it is also the oldest migration aid agency in the world at more than 130 years old. It has a super rich history of helping Jews fleeing persecution around the world find safety. Over the last several years, as the population of Jewish refugees has thankfully decreased, HIAS has been able to continue to utilize its expertise by working with other non-Jewish refugees. We do refugee resettlement in the United States as well as refugee protection internationally. Our DC office does policy and advocacy work around things like the United States Refugee Admissions Program, immigration reform, and refugee integration. Much of the Jewish community knows about HIAS, but often we are only associated with the resettlement of Jewish refugees, so one of our goals is to make sure people learn more about the work we’re doing on 5 continents with some of the most vulnerable populations in the world! You can learn more at www.hias.org/.
Aaron: I heard you like to travel. Where have you been?
Shaina: Liking to travel is an understatement. There is nothing like the thrill of adventure and immersion in another country, language, culture, etc. and seeing things you have learned about, and could only previously imagine, with your own eyes. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been able to experience a lot of longer term travel including studying abroad in Ghana, backpacking through Latin America, volunteering in Israel, and doing research in India.
Aaron: What was your favorite experience abroad?
Shaina: That’s like asking what is my favorite thing to eat. It’s basically impossible to say. My most recent experience abroad was great, so I’ll just go with that for now…I did a research project in Kolkata, India for an international social work class. The research was really fascinating and involved the collective identity of the members of a microbanking cooperative started by a union of sex workers. Taking the class was also a great way to eat some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had and travel through a very colorful and culturally rich country.
Aaron: What is your favorite Jewish food?
Shaina: Round raisin Challah! I love it so much that when I’m away for Rosh Hashana my wonderful mother will buy an extra and freeze for me to enjoy when I come home.
Aaron: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…
Shaina: When the Jews gather, I’m glad there’s good food!