My Part in the Resettlement Puzzle

Kristina pictured here with her family leaving Russia in 2001.

Hi, my name is Kristina Shirokova and I began working at Arrive Ministries in October as the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) Eligibility Coordinator and Resettlement Specialist. It’s a long title but it basically means that I help refugees get cash assistance, housing, and health care.

However, if you told me 18 years ago that this is what I would be doing, I’m not sure that I would have believed you. Because 18 years ago, I myself stood at the MSP airport with my parents, wide-eyed, excited but nervous as we waited to drive to our new home in America.

I was born and grew up in Russia. In July 2001, my parents and I were resettled by Arrive Ministries as refugees. As a young girl this move was exciting, a little scary and very confusing. I had to leave my family, friends, and the only life I ever knew for something that was completely foreign, including the language. The move came with lots of hardships, but with many joys as well because we got to experience freedoms that America offered.

It has been an absolute joy to be able to give back to others what was once given to me and my family! And while I am only a small piece of the resettlement puzzle, I feel so honored to serve the refugees that come to Minnesota.

Kristina and a team from Christ Redeemer Church welcoming a family from Afghanistan in February.

My experience as a refugee has helped me relate in a unique way with other refugees – such as Volodymyr, Yaroslava, and Yurii – who are passionate, hardworking, and kind. My experience with finding housing has been a treat as well, as I often get to find or help secure the first home in America for our refugee families. I love to see how their faces light up when I tell them that this is their new home.

While it’s easy to forget the good and the bad of the past and to get discouraged with all that is happening now, I am constantly encouraged by the refugees that come through our doors! They carry such strength, resiliency, joy, and hope. They inspire me to continue to live to the fullest, work with all my heart, and always remember that even the hardest and craziest seasons are never wasted.

Kristina Shirokova
Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) Eligibility Coordinator and Resettlement Specialist
Refugee Arrival Services