Over the weekend I learned that a new refugee family arrived last week from Colombia. I was really taken aback from the news. I am from Colombia. I immigrated to the United States when I was about 4 years old and our family saw its fair share of violence in the country. Yet I was shocked that refugees existed in Colombia. I asked what their story was and why they were here, but the woman from the resettlement agency didn’t know.
In fact, I learned that they aren’t told why any of the families are here or what their story is. At first I resisted that policy. “But why?” I asked. And then as I thought about it more, I realized that this is probably a really good thing. These families have already been through enough. They’ve been through an extensive vetting process (see link here) and have proven themselves probably time and again that they’re worthy of coming to the United States. I think that once they step foot here, it’s time to leave those stories behind and not view them based on their past, but welcome them as new citizens and new friends.
Anyway, I asked to reach out to this family as they didn’t speak english. After meeting several families with whom I couldn’t speak, I jumped at this chance. “I SPEAK SPANISH! I CAN HELP THEM!” I was super excited. I wanted to welcome them and let them know they had someone who spoke their language if they needed anything. Yesterday I spoke to the mom over the phone and we set a date for me and a friend to go visit them on Saturday. I’m pretty excited. Ok, I’m crazy excited. What should I take them? Cookies, cupcakes? What says "Welcome to The United States?"