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IMMIGRANT RIGHTS CLINIC
1. Characterize the level of initiative and responsibility you have assumed for your case. Please be specific and provide examples.
I have taken initiative and assumed responsibility for several aspects for my case. Throughout the semester, I have led discussions on what our tasks should be each week during our team meetings. I have kept us organized and on what matters need to be addressed immediately, like the work permit and initial client interview, and what tasks will be worked on in the future, like researching country condition reports. I have maintained the file and organized the documents in both the physical file and the X drive. I have taken responsibility and try to be involved in all aspects of the case, with differing levels of involvement depending on how my team has divided the work. I have taken the lead on drafting certain documents, like the interview questions, by taking input and notes from my team members and compiling it all together.
2. What strengths have emerged in connection with your case work?
A few of my strengths have emerged as we have been working on the case. My desire to complete tasks and stay on schedule has been moving our group along each week. Like a team we put all the information together to create a complete piece of work.
One of my other strengths that has emerged is my organization. I have taken initiative in organizing the case and documents on the X drive, as well as making sure we meet our deadlines. Ever since I can remember. It is important in immigration cases to stay organized because there are so many moving parts involved in the process. Our file has grown from the documents that Human Rights First provided to an entire file filled with documents that we have thus put together. In order to be efficient and effective, one needs to stay organized on all the documents we receive and all the documents we put together, because in the end, they are what will be used to prove the client’s case.
3. In what areas do you believe you have improved?
I have definitely improved in my analytical abilities. Before the clinic, I was too focused on the big picture of what was going on, trying to see fifteen steps ahead. Through this clinic, I have begun to learn that each part of a case has many steps to it, and that while keeping in mind the big picture, one needs to develop a plan of how to get there first. Seeing first hand what it means to do something I thought was going to be simple, interviewing the client, showed me just how much goes in to just explaining someone’s case to them and getting information from them. I have learned to try and think more holistically, thinking of all the different scenarios that could happen if you take a certain step. I know that this quality comes more easily with time, but I am glad to be part of this clinic, which has taught me to open my mind more to all the consequences that a certain action could have. I have learned how to problem-solve in a more effective way, and to not make assumptions about what may be happening in a case.
4. What challenges have you had in connection to your case work?
The challenges I have had in connection to the case work stem from being comfortable in making decisions. Because we are students, sometimes I am afraid of making certain decisions for fear of being wrong. For example, in deciding whether to have the client sign a G-28, my team members and I went back and forth for a while whether we should have the client sign it. I was afraid of the consequences if we have the client sign it, and afraid of what would happen if we did not have him sign. The clinic is part of the school, and so going in I had certain expectations that the professors involved in the clinic would eventually tell us the right answer. Seeing how the clinic operates now, the professors really give the students the opportunity to figure it out on their own. It has forced me to critically think of the consequences of my decisions, instead of waiting for the professor to tell me the right answer. It has pushed me to become more responsible for the decisions I come to, and analyze more critically why I came to certain decisions.
5. What areas would you still like to work on? In what ways do you plan to do so?
There are several areas I would like to work on still while in the clinic. I would like to work on thinking more analytically. I have begun to develop this skill thus far, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I want to concentrate on thinking of all the possible options when faced with a problem, and thinking in a more open way. I did not realize how one action, such as the way a table and chairs are set up in a room, can have such an effect on a client. I want to develop my skills in being faced with a problem, and be able to map out all the possible solutions. In order to do this, I will look more deeply into the issue at hand and try to deal with it from different perspectives. I will look at it from my perspective, as well as the client’s perspective, so that way I can open my mind to other possibilities to solutions.
6. What is your reaction(s) to your client? Your client’s case? Has it changed over time? What effect has it had on your work on the case? What effect do you think it might have in the future?
My first reaction to the client was that I felt extremely bad for what happened to him. I could not begin to imagine what it means to have to leave your family and home country behind, and be in a new country all on your own. As I did more research though, I begun to realize that my empathy for him will not be the only thing that ultimately gains him asylum status. I needed to be able to critically analyze his case if I wanted to help him in the best way possible. I needed to look at the strengths of his case, but also the weaknesses of it. It has made me more focused on doing the work because this, coupled with my empathy for him, is what gave me the desire to keep working on the case whenever I could. Upon meeting the client, I was finally able to put a face to all the work we had been doing thus far. It further increased my desire to work on the case because it was no longer information on paper – it was a man who had gone through these events and was coming to us for help. The reality is that this man’s life depends on him receiving asylum status, and to be able to have a hand in helping him get there is extremely rewarding. After meeting him and seeing how nervous he was, I was further motivated to help this man and do as much as at the clinic.
7. Describe the ways in which the “collaborative learning” model has worked for you and your partners? Be specific and complete the following:
(a) my collaboration with my partners on our matter has succeeded because I…. ; AND (b) my collaboration with my partners on our matter has succeeded because my partners….
My collaboration with my partners on our matter has succeeded because I have improved in my communication and listening skills, and so we have been able to move the case along as we listen to each others opinions and encourage each other to speak up. I have taken on certain tasks, while my partners have taken on certain other tasks, which allow us to have more time to talk about substantive issues instead of spending time organizing files. I have become more open as time goes on, and have therefore encouraged brainstorming of ideas and trying to make sure we take on the problem from all perspectives. I have certain strengths, as my partners do as well, and so I have been able to contribute in the best ways I can. We have been in communication with each other often each week, which has made us more comfortable with each other and sharing our ideas.
My collaboration with my partners on our matter has succeeded because my partners are very flexible and open to ideas of what we could do with the various aspects of the case. They are both easy to work with because they are respectful to opinions and let everyone speak on matters with the case. My partners are both organized as well, and so we stay on task and do not deviate down rabbit holes. No one is head strong in our group so if one person sees that their idea is not working, they are more than comfortable with going on with a different plan. Everyone is willing to do the tasks at hand and trust each other that it will get done.
8. If your team has had any difficulties with collaboration, describe how it can be improved. What efforts have you made to facilitate group work and communication? Describe your level of satisfaction with your efforts. What would you change?
Certain difficulties we have faced with collaboration is that because we are all anti-confrontational, when someone is not sure an idea is a good one, they may not speak up in order not to offend the person. Even though we are comfortable with communicating with each other, there have been certain instances when group members thought they were right about something and it turns out they were not, but I did not speak up because I was not sure myself and I did not want to offend them since they seemed so sure of the answer. In order to change this, it would be conducive to have everyone speak about the issue, even if they are not sure. This will force analytical thinking to happen instead of taking people at their word without diving more into the problem.
9. What have you learned from your case thus far? What would you like to learn over the course of the rest of the semester?
Thus far, we have learned a lot more about our client’s life than what Human Rights First had sent us. We learned details about the client’s life that were unknown to us, and we learned how he has felt throughout this entire situation of what happened to him. From the client, we have learned more not only about his situation, but also what has been happening and what is going on right now in his home country. In learning about the client through his interview, I have also learned how to interact with a client. I have learned how to ask questions, and how to probe about more information. I have learned what it means to truly actively listen, while engaging with the client to get more information.
I have also learned more about immigration law in general. I have learned the general law surrounding asylum applications, and the different bases of how to qualify. I have learned how to qualify for these bases, and what does and does not satisfy the definition of asylum. I have learned where to look up this information, and how to conduct research on case law having to do with immigration. I have learned more about how many steps it actually takes to receive asylum application, on how much of a long process it actually is.
10. Please provide any comments regarding ways in which the case work component of the clinic might be improved.
The casework components might be improved by venturing into ways in which the United States reacted towards the situation leading to the application for asylum. The clinic component can be improved by prohibiting the discrimination of people with HIV/AIDS.
11. Describe your degree of preparation for class (including assignments). Are you satisfied with your efforts? Why or why not?
I am well prepared for the class work and assignments. I am also satisfied with my efforts. This is because I find the topic interesting. I also seek to find interventions for the issue of asylum.
12. Describe your level of participation in class discussions. Are you satisfied with your
efforts? Why or why not?
My participation in class work is impressive, as I have intense interest in the topic of discussion. I am also satisfied with my efforts because I see light in them.
13. Please provide any comments regarding ways in which the classroom component of the clinic might be improved.
The classroom components of the clinic can be improved by enhancing more aspects of group discussion about the case and other related ones. It is also important to enlighten medics to take good care of patients without considering their affiliations.
Add any additional comments about your performance in the clinic or about the overall functioning of the clinic.
I would term my overall performance in the clinic as outstanding as I believe the topic at hand is worth discussing as far as human rights are concerned. This is because every person has the right to live without fear of being subjected to bad experiences.