By Elmac Ngango
Many immigrants and refugees arrive in the United States of America without families and friends. This is a challenging life situation that is addressed by the organization World Relief in Durham, North Carolina.
Case in point is Nural Amin, a Burmese refugee who resettled in the Triangle area of North Carolina through World Relief Durham. As noted in a story on the World Relief website, Nural fled his home in Burma in 1994 due to an armed conflict. He and his family lived in a refugee camp in Bangladesh before finally coming over to the United States. Adam Clark, Director of World Relief in Durham, is helping people like Nural and many other refugees make a positive adjustment to a new country.
Adam has a challenging role leading World Relief. He directs an organization that collaborates with the local church and wider community to resettle refugees, assisting them as they learn a new language, adjust to a new culture and pursue employment, education and other opportunities in the community. He has been on his career journey for 14 years and in his role as director for the past six years. Despite this, Adam still thinks that he needs more work experience.
“I never believe that I have all the necessary skills and knowledge required to fulfill my work,” he said. “I still need to learn new skills and gain new knowledge that can help me to perform my job more successfully.”
I found it interesting that he would make such an observation given the various roles he has held over years.
As Director of World Relief in Durham, Adam is in charge of staffing the organization, adding new programs, identifying funding sources, pursuing and securing funding and establishing partnerships with NGOs, churches, mosques and other organizations.
Adam also must play a role as an advocate for refugees in a political climate where they aren’t always accepted.
“There is a challenge in changing the perception of those in the United States who do not welcome immigrants,” Adam said. “There is social resistance to helping those coming from outside the country and that is problematic.”
In response to this challenge, Adam and his colleagues lead educational presentations at churches, schools, businesses and other venues. “We try to provide education for people to understand the challenges refugees are facing,” he said.
Adam studied Philosophy in Chicago, Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor degree. Later, he earned a Master’s degree. He interned for different organizations that were involved in supporting refugees in Kentucky and worked as a data analyst in Louisville, Kentucky, Office for Refugees at a Catholics Charities Company, and was a manager of refugee employment services at a Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
In this latter role, Adam managed the economic empowerment process for hundreds of employable refugees per year at the largest resettlement agency in Kentucky, attaining 800+ jobs for refugees in one year.
“This was the result of developing networks with participating companies, conducting workshops and offering direct employment services for refugees,” he said.
Adam also served as a minister in a homeless outreach and pastoral care at Jeff Street Baptist Community in Kentucky. In addition, he worked as a teaching assistant at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Yet despite all these experiences, Adam still thinks that he needs to acquire many more
Career Advice from Adam Clark
To gain opportunities in humanitarian related organizations, Adam recommends developing technology skills and demonstrating English proficiency. It is also important to have mentors to give you advice about your interests.
Nobody has truly learned it all, regardless of the level that one reaches. Every single day is a new chance to learn new things that can help us in our career or any other life situation we may go through. Keep your heart and mind motivated and desire to learn new skills and knowledge because life is an ongoing teaching school.
I am keen to apply Adam’s advice by keeping interested in learning and gaining new experiences as I pursue my future endeavors. Specifically, as I studied management at the university, I am enthusiastically passionate to work in a logistics/operations related company to build my professional future career.
With Adam’s advice, if I get that opportunity, I will set my mind on learning new experiences in whatever situation I will go through. We need to all keep sharpening our minds to make a difference in the organizations we work.
Connect with Adam Clark via LinkedIn.
Elmac Ngango is a Southern New Hampshire University Graduate. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in October 2020 and majored in Management with a concentration in Logistics and Operations. Elmac wrote this story after going through the Global Innovators Academy Interview and Innovator experience.