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Christian Przyblek helps refugees in Philadelphia

The question of what to do with one’s life upon graduation usually elicits some variation of, “I have no idea.” Instead of waiting for that fateful day to express similar sentiments, senior Christian Przybylek has decided to take the road less traveled. This year before he graduates, Przybylek will be managing and maintaining a refugee house in north Philadelphia.

Welcoming House, which is a working name for the program, will provide temporary housing for refugees seeking political asylum, survivors of torture and other immigrants. Przybylek hopes that Welcoming House will be a place for these people to eat and sleep until they are placed in permanent housing. Przybylek will be the program’s housing director with Robert Hornak, an Eastern graduate, as his assistant.

This “refugee bed and breakfast” as Przybylek puts it, will provide its occupants with a room and “culturally appropriate meals.” Przybylek will be responsible for managing the house, cooking meals and preparing rooms for the new residents.

“The majority of those coming into Welcoming House are Iraqi, Burmese and Sudanese,” Przybylek said. The State Department, working in conjunction with the Nationalities Service Center, refers such clients directly to Welcoming House. 
Przybylek describes his job as both “depressing and rewarding.”

“To see them make a home and to succeed, and to see some semblance of hope is the most rewarding part,” Przybylek said.

Despite the 35-minute commute from the agency’s location on Gratts Street in Philadelphia, Przybylek plans to maintain his full-time status as a student here at Eastern and to graduate in May 2010. His plans for after graduation may still include the refugee house, but may also provide something in the way of graduate school or even the Peace Corps.

Przybylek’s political science major, though helpful in such endeavors as these, was not what drew him to this cause.

As his chief inspirations, Przybylek cited his time spent studying abroad in Uganda, a country currently engaged in civil war, and his father’s immigration to the US after WWII.
Przybylek’s first knowledge of the program came last summer when he did his internship with the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia.

Welcoming House exists under the umbrella of a larger refugee resettlement agency called the Nationalities Service Center. The NSC services about 4,000 clients per year from 90 countries.
 

To learn more or to contribute to the Welcoming House cause you can e-mail Christian Przybylek at xtianprz@gmail.com.

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