I recently changed the name of this blog from “Refugee Strength in the U.S.” to its new title: “Investigations of Refugee Strength and Strife.”
I struggle with this change for several reasons, but I will explain why and how I came to this decision.
The reason I originally started this blog was to draw attention to the positive aspects of refugee presence in the United States. I am constantly shocked at the ignorance and blatant racism that surrounds the population of the U.S. Take the newest Coca Cola Commercial that premiered during the Super Bowl, for example. This commercial brought tears to my eyes, but I saw those around me rolling their eyes, begging to start an argument about those “illegals” taking over our country and using up all of our tax dollars. Well, unfortunately I have never been a very talented debater, and I tend to allow my emotions to take over in such arguments, which leads to weakness and ultimate loss of any passionate battle (but this is for another post…on another blog…on another day).
“Strength and Strife”
So, instead of fighting, arguing and probably losing, I decided to start a blog that would demonstrate not only my own experiences with refugees I meet through my research, but also any other stories of refugees thriving in the United States. I wanted to post stories of their contributions to our communities, society and the world, overall. I still want to do this, but I found myself wanting to post about other aspects of their lives as well. While I desperately want to change the conversation from risk-based to resilience-based, I also want to share their stories when they are not so pleasant.
I suppose the ultimate point is to simply tell their stories, and hope that others will read them, reflect on them and receive them with grace.
If their stories are analogous to the people themselves, perhaps we can better understand that while some stories will be strong and resilient, others will include struggles and sadness, and still others will leave us confused about what to feel at all because we simply cannot relate.
I also wanted to include the word “investigations” as part of the name because I intend this blog to be a venue through which I share my own research, which will also take place outside of the U.S. This summer, I will conduct research in two hospitals in Northern Israel. These two hospitals have been treating Syrian refugees since the beginning of the civil conflict in Syria, despite the fact that Israel and Syria are technically enemy states. There have been many news outlets reporting stories related to this humanitarian effort, but the research has been scarce. I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the knowledge base with this future study.
While I will continue to write and draw attention to strength-based stories, I hope readers will be receptive to others as well. In my short time on this Earth, I am comfortable saying that without strife and struggle, we cannot truly appreciate or even recognize strength. I can confidently say that my own struggles pale in comparison to the refugee families I have known. I suppose this will continue to be the case for me as an educated, privileged, White U.S. citizen. While I can never know exactly how they feel, I can tell their stories through my own words.
If I can recognize their strength despite their unending strife, I am sure readers will too.