Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day one of client intake

I wasn’t sure what to expect, the day began off with a series of early arrivers who all had vastly different stories. It is amazing to realize people who are so close to each other, be so different. I began downstairs at the entrance prescreening clients to make sure they had basic documents, photos and knew where the nearest places where to get their needs. Then I joined my group back upstairs to help them intake. As I watched other groups I saw all different types of Haitians from old to young.

The most difficult aspect was gaining the trust of the client. Oftentimes clients would tell us information that they did not want recorded or written down, things such as being in the military or type of entrance into the country, some even refused to give their real name. The trick here to calming and easing the pressure is repetitive reassurance, to constantly remind clients that we always keep confidentiality and would never take any action to adversely affect their situation.

In addition to this was the language barrier. Explaining principles such as a “stowaway” or what “adversely affects foreign policy” through solely English was really difficult, knowing a second language at this point proved to be priceless. Despite the difficulty of the language barrier, when clients left the clinic they were sincerely happy. We were able to at least explain that if we cannot help that we can point them into the right direction, which is better than doing nothing at all.

Btw they do not serve milk shakes at taco bell

Ed. note:
Ben Akbulut is a first year law student at New England Law | Boston and will be the blogger for this week.

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