On June 15th, I participated in World Refugee Day celebration in Jacksonville – though World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th.
I work with refugees (and parolees and asylees), we are part of the chain that helps them settle in the United States. Once they have been here a year, they can apply for the green card and we help them with some of the paperwork and put them in contact with Legal Aid.
As an immigrant, I have a small idea of what difficulties are ahead of them, but I cannot mesure what they left behind and the circumstances. People here think everyone dreams of living in the United States (some people think I married A. because I wanted a green card) and it doesn’t occur to them the horrors the refugees are fleeing. Yes, for them, the United States are a promise of a better life… or simply an opportunity to stay alive. They are brave, resilient people.
The fact that I speak French was certainly what landed me that job, and it’s so special to me when some of the refugees smile up to their ears because someone understands their language.
Sadly, politics had put a stop to a lot of arrivals, and we have been so slow that I started working in another department.
I’m glad I was still invited to that special day, and could listen to their stories, and even see some traditional dances. Please, be welcoming and patient when you meet some of them!