Recent graduate Adam Domitz ’17 shares how his experiences at Concordia help him with his job at Lutheran Social Services.
From studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt, to helping plan Concordia’s Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium on “America and the Middle East,” he has certainly pursued his passion of being a global citizen. Read on to hear about Adam’s work with LSS, his experience in Cairo and his time at the Concordia Language Villages.
Adam Domitz ’17, Lino Lakes, Minn.
Majors; Minor: Political Science and Global Studies; History
Where have you worked since graduating from Concordia? What do you do on a typical work day?
I work at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program. The program serves refugees who are either orphaned or who have lost contact with their family and come to the United States without a guardian. LSS becomes their guardian and serves them through intensive case management and a huge variety of other services. There are 21 cities across the country that have a URM program. Currently, there are 75 youth in North Dakota’s program from a large array of countries and continents.
My title is a little long (foster care case aide and transition specialist), but it basically means I spend half of my time helping out with any case management needs and the other half with the Independent Living team. Independent Living teaches young adults in the program from ages 16-21 skills to transition out of foster care and into their own apartment. We teach them money management skills, health, meal preparation, safety, job skills, etc. I am pretty lucky to have this job because all of my co-workers either have a social work license or are working on their social work degree.
How has your major at Concordia helped you with your current job?
Often when I would tell people I was a global studies and political science double major, they would scoff and say “what are you going to do with that” (family members, too!). But I never doubted it was the right fit for me. It built up my professional skills in so many ways. The hard and soft skills I learned at Concordia translate into what I do now. I am able to apply critical thinking and analytical skills to problems I encounter. I am able to write reports, case notes, and summaries with no problem (we all do a lot of writing at Concordia, don't we?). The debates and conversations we had in class translate in my ability to communicate with co-workers. And in so many ways, my international experience while studying abroad (which the global studies program encourages) helped me get my internship and job at LSS. Language skills and cultural competency are coveted skills in the workforce and both are highly encouraged at Concordia.
What was your experience like working with Concordia Language Villages?
I have been involved with Concordia Language Villages twice and both were amazing experiences. One was as a summer village counselor and public relations coordinator, which was so much fun! I made lifelong friends who I chat with to this day. A group of counselors stay connected in a group chat where we update each other on what we're doing and any Arabic learning opportunities we find.
The other experience was with the new Department of Defense Language Training Center program the Language Villages has embarked on. For nine days, I was involved in an iso-immersion program to improve National Guard linguists’ Arabic abilities. Much of my time was spent creating and implementing immersive and culturally appropriate activities. Some examples include an Egyptian ahwa (or coffee shop) and a traditional Middle Eastern souq (open air market) where the students could practice their language in realistic situations they may encounter overseas. This one-week training, even as a staff member, was one of the best opportunities I have ever had to improve my language level!
How has studying abroad in Cairo impacted your life since then?
While I was in Cairo, I was able to work on my Arabic and also gained priceless cultural competencies. I also learned what it was like to move to a new country where you know no one and the language is different. So, in many ways, it has helped me empathize with the refugees who I have been serving. If anything, I wish I had studied abroad sooner and longer, and especially wish I had put more work into improving my Arabic. It also introduced me to a plethora of people who remain friends. I met so many amazing people from around the world and plan to visit many of them in the coming year or two.
You helped plan Concordia’s 2016 symposium, “America and the Middle East: Local and Global Dimensions.” What did you learn from that experience and why did you want to get involved?
I was graciously asked to help with the symposium by the chair of the planning committee for the year, Dr. Sonja Wentling. I had taken multiple courses about Middle Eastern history from her by that point and had plans to study abroad in Egypt, so she knew my academic passions were in the Middle East. I was one of two students originally asked to join the committee (along with Rachel Dieter), but the committee grew and more students later joined. Getting to share my passion and help educate the Concordia community about the Middle East was so exciting!
The experience was a great way to learn more about the extreme hard work and dedication that Concordia staff and faculty put into learning experiences on campus. For a year and a half, a group of 18 people worked to put together this weeklong event. I think most people don’t realize how much work goes into something like the symposium. Being involved with everything from brainstorming ideas to event-day logistics was amazing. I got to meet and interact with the keynote speakers and even introduce one of them and moderated their session. It was a huge honor.
This event planning experience also directly correlated into my having the skills to host my own fundraising event for LSS in October. It was called “A Taste of the World.” It was a huge success, exceeding fundraising goals – all of which go toward New American Services at LSS. More about the event can be found at http://www.kvrr.com/2017/10/11/live-a-taste-of-the-world-with-lutheran-social-services/ and http://www.kvrr.com/2017/10/12/fargos-ethnic-restaurants-showcased-at-taste-of-world/.
Language skills and cultural competency are coveted skills in the workforce and both are highly encouraged at Concordia. – Adam Domitz '17
As an alumnus of Concordia College, how have you continued to be connected since graduation?
I stay a lot more connected than one might assume. Because my work schedule is flexible, I was afforded the opportunity to audit a beginning French course at Concordia. As long as I finish all of my work and put in my hours, LSS has had no problem letting me continue to learn. In fact, it builds my skill set and many of the kids and young adults that we serve speak French. So if you continue to see me on campus, that is probably why! You will also be likely to see me at any Concordia Orchestra concert.
Do you have any advice for seniors who are graduating soon?
If you still have a chance, take the time to do a cooperative education course. You get to do an internship or work experience as class credit and campus faculty will serve as an advisor during the co-op. At the beginning of my senior year, I took a co-op/internship with LSS that directly turned into a part-time job for the rest of my senior year and a full-time job after graduation. These experiences help build professional skills and can get your foot in the door at an organization you would really like to work for. It also helps you learn if that type of work is right for you as a full-time gig.
And, of course, have fun! I cherish my Concordia memories. When all is said and done, I don’t think anyone will regret spending a little extra time with friends their senior year. Good luck to all of you out there. It seems a lot more daunting and scary right now than it is, and I have no doubt you can do it!
Bailey Tillman '18 studies multimedia journalism, Spanish and film studies at Concordia.