Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Ilaria Giglioli

Second Advisor

Olivier Bercault


When faced with dire situations, refugees are forced to migrate without choice. As a new reality is forced upon them, many don’t have much say in what their futures hold. One option that only the fortunate bunch are presented with is resettlement in a third country. Addressing complexities within the refugee resettlement system consists of various dynamics including integration processes, cultural transitions, multilingualism, among much more. The purpose of this thesis is to address the quality of the current reception services in the United States in order to more effectively assist refugees throughout this general transition period. My main thesis question asks how refugee resettlement agencies can better prepare newly arrived refugees to integrate into a new society through their programming efforts. To that aim, it examines the realities refugees face when resettled in Clarkston, Georgia, a diverse community located in the southeastern U.S. known as the most diverse square-mile in America. Placing this local community at the core of this research, we learn of the importance that community-based services have and the need for resettlement agencies to center refugees' voices in this work.

This research relies on two months of ethnographic observation and 16 interviews with resettled refugees, resettlement agency staff, and community partners. Findings shed light on three particular aspects of resettlement, including cultural orientation, employment services, and translation services, and the impact these three elements have on overall refugee integration. While cultural orientation is intended to provide consistent information across resettlement agencies, there are many inconsistencies resulting in refugees’ inability to retain much of the information provided. When it comes to employment, resettlement agencies assist with finding initial employment, but do not help refugees with finding sustainable, long-term employment options. Lastly, I found that the translation services provided are insufficient in regard to refugees having a full understanding of the resources available to them. With these things in mind, this research takes a deep dive into the local resettlement world in Clarkston and offers recommendations for best practice.