Publication Date

2001

Abstract

Last year only 73,000 refugees were allowed entry into the United States out of an estimated 14 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. When a person or family applies to be a refugee in the United States they begin a long process in which will cross the paths of many government, non-government, and private organizations. They must submit to a health screening, prove they are indeed at risk if they return home, get to the airport that has been designated as their departure point, find employment, learn English, make a new home. All of this is supposed to be accomplished in 90 days according to the agreement between the voluntary organizations and the US Government. It was easy to find statistical data on refugees, but I found few stories describing the refugee experience. I chose to do a case study because I wanted to tell the story of a refugee family and describe what numbers alone cannot tell. I have had the honor to work with one refugee family and the organization that sponsored them. It has been an amazing year for them and although I am certain that they will become a positive statistic, they are currently struggling in this new land. When I visited them most recently they were lamenting the fact that they have so few friends. In their country they said every evening people go out to the road and greet one another. People meet in the evenings and share stories and coffee or tea. You should introduce yourselves to your new neighbors I said. "We tried, but they are Chinese and we cannot understand them. Not, Chinese said the older son, Asian."

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