The final step in the resettlement process before departure is for refugees to take part in a cultural orientation course at IOM's office, so they can be prepared for the differences, challenges, and opportunities they will meet within their new host country. The course covers many subjects such as: refugee's rights and status; the kind of support they can expect from the host government; the social, cultural, and economic make-up of the community they will join; local laws; safety; health; education; housing; host language courses; and more. The primary goal of the U.S. cultural orientation session is to prepare refugees for their first months in the United States; in particular, to enable refugees to become self-sufficient as soon as possible after arrival. Specific objectives include:
- Providing refugees with accurate information about the resettlement process and life in the resettling country.
- Helping refugees to develop realistic expectations.
- Assisting refugees to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary for successful adaptation to their new society.
IOM asked three refugees on the course to share their stories (all names have been changed to protect the identity of applicants).