As my first year at Loyola University Chicago comes to an end, I’m constantly reminiscing on all the amazing memories and friends I’ve made, some of which include members of the Subedi family, my refugee family from Nepal. Having visited them every Thursday evening for about three months now, this last Thursday was bittersweet. When saying goodbye, I realized visiting this family has truly become a part of my daily routine here at Loyola and not being able to come for the next few months to share laughs, food, and knowledge on our diverse cultures was going to feel as if something was missing. When we told the family we would be coming back in a few months they all said they were really going to miss us, that type of feedback made all the hours spend with the family not only worthwhile, but I felt very appreciated. Saying goodbye is never easy, when you become very close to someone during a short period of time, the goodbyes just get harder.
Looking back at the first time we met up with our mentor, Rob, I remember being nervous about not only meeting the family, but also getting to know him. I didn’t want the family to feel as if we were going to be replacing Rob, he’s been visiting them for about 2 years now, and we wouldn’t want to take his place. Upon our arrival, they were very welcoming and since that time we bonded over drinking chai tea, our experience with the family has been an unforgettable one.
From taking them out to the movies to teaching their young nephew about the American currency system, the family and us have gone through a lot. We were there with them when one of the girls got injured at work and broke two of her fingers and we have helped them through numerous hours of math and english homework. At first, I remember the girls were shy about asking us for help with their homework, I think they felt a little embarrassed. Constantly going and showing our support for them to do well in school and truly understand the material made the girls open up to us a great deal more. After many weeks of going to help them out with their homework, the girls not only trusted us with that, but with personal information as well. There is one time especially, when we were with one of the girls as she got ready to meet her boyfriend of some time now, they had only known each other through talking on the phone and instant messaging. It was a cute experience to see her really excited and the fact that she trusted us to share her personal life like that give us the sense that we truly are good friends to these girls.
This experience is not only about making friends, going to meet this family every Thursday has been enriching in that I get to help the community here at Loyola. Back at home, I was involved in many clubs and organizations inside and out of school and I did at least 3 hours of community service literally every week. Being able to enrich my community here at Loyola by simply visiting a family that I really care for, and will visit on my own time ones this class is over, makes the experience not seem like it’s school related, but just a trip to a friend’s house. This class has challenged me to look at the world through a bigger lens and realize that because of people’s constant battles, refugees must struggle to live in a completely new country with a new culture and lifestyle they are not familiar with. I have grown with this new knowledge, because I have come to realize that people need consistency to become stable and it is something everyone takes for granted growing up. People need someone to care for them and just have their backs as they go along preparing for bright futures here in the United States. Not only have they learned may things from us, but I can honestly say I have learned a great deal from them as well. Having gone through the interview process and left their home country to start a new life in a brand new place, refugees are inspiring people who I’m glad I got to interact with this semester.