Poetry and Refugees

In 2011, I had just gotten back from spending a year in Damascus studying Arabic when I decided to explore the Pacific Northwest a bit by living in Seattle. While I was out there enjoying the beautiful Seattle summer, one of my friends told me about a refugee family that was looking for a mentor for their kids. Initially seeing it as an opportunity to brush up on my Arabic, saying yes to volunteering with that family wound up having a profound effect on me personally as well as professionally. 

I wound up spending a lot of time with this family and it gave me a perspective on life as a refugee that I didn't have previously. When I came back to Austin, I wound up getting a job at a refugee agency as a case manager on the resettlement team. I've worked with refugees in both a personal and professional capacity, hearing their stories, helping when I can, and experiencing in a very small way a side to life that I never thought I would experience. This poem that I wrote for Amaanah Refugee Services in Houston is a product of those experiences. According to the UNHCR there are 21.3 million refugees in the world. In a world where there is so much anti-immigrant sentiment, it's important that we band together and recognize our common humanity.