Santa: From Client to Staff

Written By: Ellie McDermott

In April 2009, just one and a half months after arriving to America as a Bhutanese refugee, Santa Pradhan started working at SeaTac Airport as a customer service associate and food preparer.

She enjoyed her job because she got to interact with lots of people (more than a thousand per day!). She liked providing customer service and enjoyed working with team members from many different countries, cultures and languages.

While she enjoyed her job, she also faced a significant challenge. For the first few months after she started working, she used to get off work at midnight. There was no bus for her to get back home, so she waited at the airport for up to five hours until the bus started running again! When she couldn’t find a friend to give her a ride home, she had to wait all night in the airport, napping and reading to pass the time.

Although her shift changed after a few months, it still sometimes took her up to two hours to get home from her shift depending on what time she got off work and which bus lines were running.

After two and a half years working at the airport, Santa was promoted to a shift supervisor position. She enjoyed the opportunities to take care of team members, make sure her coworkers were not overloaded with too much work, and serve as the liaison between the associates and the managers. She acquired a number of responsibilities, including responding to customer questions, solving problems for associates and customers, ordering supplies for the store, and managing inventory.

Santa enjoyed working at the airport, but she hoped to eventually work in a job where she could help refugees who were in the same situation she was in when she came to America. Having experienced life as a refugee in America, she felt she could support and encourage newly-arrived refugees.

In May 2012, she heard about an open position at World Relief in the Employment Program. After applying and interviewing, the Employment Manager called Santa and offered her the job!

Now, after one year on the Employment Team at World Relief, Santa has become a crucial member of the World Relief team. She brings perspective, patience, and an incredible work ethic.

In just over four years in America, Santa has moved from being a newly-arrived refugee to a World Relief staff member who supports and encourages other refugees with her own story of starting a new life in America.

Thanks for sharing your story, Santa!

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