Kristine Weller


How the Know Your Neighbor program helps refugees and volunteers in SLC


When considering enterprise story ideas, I did not want to take the easy way out. I really wanted to search for a topic that I was passionate about and would enjoy writing. I first thought of big picture things that interest me and that I have a passion for. Topics of interest included sustainability, human rights and mental health. 

I knew, however, that I needed to be specific when picking a story idea. Coincidentally, my sister had just become a volunteer for the Know Your Neighbor program. This program aids refugees and seemed to fit my passions well. I knew the Know Your Neighbor program was an important topic that I would enjoy writing about. 

My sister gave me the contact information for the volunteer coordinator, Megan McLaws, at Know Your Neighbor. McLaws was a wonderful source, and she put me in contact with two volunteers, Lexie Hanks and Kim Langton.

Hanks was a great source because she has been an active volunteer in the Know Your Neighbor program for a little over a year. Further, she has volunteered in a number of different ways, including virtual tutoring and going to the goat farm that is run by a Refugee Community Based Organization (RCBO).

Langton was also a great source because he has been an active volunteer for over three years and is also on the board for an RCBO, the Umoja Generation, which also aids refugees. He gave good insight on how helping refugees has impacted his own life and the new perspectives that can be gained from it. 

After interviewing McLaws, Hanks, and Langton I needed to focus my story. The biggest problem for me, however, was that there was so much good information, thoughts and quotes I wanted to use. All three of my interviewees had something inspiring and profound to say, but I couldn’t include everything they shared.

I didn’t get to include Hanks’ story about reading “Snowy Day” to the refugee kids she tutored virtually. As she read this story, the kids stopped her because they were excited that it was snowing outside, just like in the book.  

Langton also had some fun stories that I couldn’t include, one being about the refugee he mentors. After Langton’s mentee called him from a Walmart parking lot with smoke coming out of the engine of his first car, Langton explained that you have to change the oil in your car every few months. 

While I didn’t include everything each interviewee discussed, I did pick out important aspects of what each person shared, and was able to craft a story that explains what the Know Your Neighbor program is and how it helps volunteers and refugees alike.


Growing up, I was never sure what I wanted to do when I became an adult. When I was very young, I always said that I wanted to be an angel when I was older. This, obviously, couldn’t become a reality. 

Despite my first dream “job” being unrealistic, I still felt I needed to pick a specific path. Over the years, I have considered many options when it came to a career. I felt I needed to plan out with certainty what I was going to do. 

I now have realized that it’s impossible to plan for the future in this way. I instead have started to focus on what I value, what I’m passionate about and what will be fulfilling and aim toward goals that encompass those ideas. 

Considering this, I want to fight for the rights of others and spread awareness surrounding issues regarding race, mental health, ethnicity, gender, class and sexual orientation. Furthermore, I wish to inspire people of all ages through advocacy and writing.