I believe each moment has some significance. Maybe we have not figured it out yet, or maybe we will not figure it out until it is too late. Yesterday, I had a series of moments where I saw how everyday the topics we have been working are. When it hit me I did not become overwhelmed, I became excited because I realized how simple it could be for us to put ourselves out of business.
I was at work and a large group of students walked in. This was very unusual. I held the door open for them and I noticed a lot of them did not seem like the “typical” JMU student. They were from different South Eastern cultures. One student even appeared to be Somalia. Eager, I started to talk to the Graduate Assistant about what was going on in the office and asked her why all of these students were visiting. She said it was because the Student Exchange Program is trying to involved in the Alternative Break Program.
Part of working in the Community Service-Learning Office is having Bi-Weekly All-Staff meetings. This is when the whole staff gets together to talk about what is going on in each cohort and to address any needs we have in the office or plan any programs we have going on that involve all of the cohorts. While we were in the meeting I made an announcement about an upcoming event that our SCOM 318 class is putting on. I talked about how we are bringing Jany Deng to campus this April. I talked about what Jany will be talking about. (Sorry readers, I do not want to spoil our later blogs) I then asked the office if we could co-sponsor the event. Once they agreed. I talked to then about how we will preface the event with the movie The Good Lie. The Graduate Assistance, Dakota, nodded in agreement.
At the end of the All-Staff meeting we did high’s and low’s of the week. Dakota’s high as that she found a roommate from Iraq. He is a refugee from Kurdistan. He worked in an American University as a technician. The people in town persecuted him because he worked at an American University. He arrived in February. Dakota was saying he signed his lease on March 23, which is a holiday in Iraq. According to Dakota, he was so happy and he thought it was a sign that he was finding a place to live on such a significant day.
Back in Iraq, he came from an affluent family; they own their own businesses. He is working to seek asylum. He is working to bring his wife and daughter here. He is currently striving to be certified as a technician. I asked to Dakota if I could meet him and talk to him about his experiences. She said yes.
She also said he hope to seek asylum with in a year. This is because of his daughter. His daughter is currently two. She is the reason he came to the United States. He wants her to have a better life here. He is afraid she will hate him for her life. He said that he was heart breaking to her is daughter asking where he is.
I thought this story was so touching because we went to Phoenix to hear stories like Dakota’s roommate. I think this story shows that refugee resettlement happens all over the country and is a social issue that should be talked about more in general. I think it is important to talk about the route causes of refuge resettlement, but we should also talk about the issues these people face when they come to our country. They are faced with confusion, being home sick, anger, sadness, and ambition. I believe we should do everything in our power to extinguish these feeling and erase indifference. This will ensure these people can truly acclimate to the new community they are trying to be apart of. After all, isn’t that why we have small moment like the one I had? Aren’t they to make us realize that we are part of something bigger than what is right in front of us?
– Sam Shepherd