This was something that was said to me by my professor our last night of the trip. He and my classmates told me that they could see me just light up when I was around the refugees throughout the week, but that in order to be successful in advocacy I needed to be careful. Well, this is something that I have wrestled with for quite sometime. I am one of those people who wear their heart on their sleeve. Always have. Always will. Now, I know this gets me into some trouble because I get let down and I get my heart hurt a lot, but it is actually something I am proud of. Since high school I have been the “crier,”and okay I know this can be obnoxious, but it is who I am and I have accepted this piece of me. One of my classmates said it so perfectly about herself and I could definitely relate. I “love quick, and love hard.”
As I sit in my bed thinking about my week last week, my heart aches. Aches to be back in Phoenix, aches to be back with every single family we met, aches to be living with my 10 classmates again, and aches to be surrounded by such grateful and warm people. I will forever be in awe of the positivity that radiated from every single refugee we met. I will forever be in awe of the strength of my peers. I will forever be in awe at the patience of my teacher. This was a week of emotional ups and downs and it is something I am SO unbelievably appreciative of.
Going back to the beginning of this, I am experiencing this withdrawal of loving too hard. I met a four year old Somalian refugee named Leila, and let me tell you, it was love. If I could have her next to me 24/7 I would never utter a complaint again. She is one of many who will forever hold a spot in my heart. Throughout the week I could feel my heart expanding and opening to each individual and I have zero regrets for that. I even made the “mistake” of trying to hug a Somalian man, and honestly I am okay with it. He was not too pleased, but a piece of me believes that he knows it was my way of saying thank you.
In advocacy one must have a wall up. You witness and hear stories you could never fathom happening to you, to your family, or even your worst enemy. These human beings have been treated with absolute cruelty and it is your job to make them feel as comfortable and happy as possible with their new situation. I think I bring emotion to the table in advocacy and I am proud. Sometimes what our society needs is compassion, warmth, and feelings. I have all of those and I want these individuals to feel welcome without any hesitation.
If this week taught me one thing, it is acceptance, in all senses of the word.
Acceptance of refugees. I have a greater, more complex, understanding of refugees and will forever accept them into our society.
Acceptance of myself. I am finally accepting my emotional side and understanding that this is who. I. am.