“Hey, Jung, Can I play with your phone please?” says a three-year-old boy named. Then he smiles and says, “I want to play Angry Bird and Temple Run.” I feel absolutely guilty as pull out my phone. However his smiles just melts me down and I hand over my phone. He jumps up and down and starts playing the games as I help other members of the family with their homework. This is a typical part of our usual visits, Kimberly, my partner and I experience every time we see the family. We bonded strongly with the children and my intentions for visiting the family has become more than just a requirement for a course. The family truly became a part of my life, my learning experience and they have become ‘my people’ that I care for. In the beginning, it was sympathy that I really had for them. After learning about their circumstances and how tough it is for them to adjust I felt empathetic towards them. This was mostly my motivation to visit the family. However, the more time I spent with them, I saw that they were pulling through the hardship. They did not complain too much about what they had or what they did not have. All I could see in their attitudes and behaviors whether towards their neighbors or us was gratitude and appreciation. The children showed us trust and respect even before we gave them a reason. And slowly, our relationship tightened. It was a true and honest relationship where there was not any material contract or profit anyone was getting, and I feel more than blessed to have experienced such love, where the only thing that is keeping us together is sincerity. This completely changed my views that everyone works to gain something in some ways. The family saw true happiness in accepting and appreciating their circumstances and they influenced my beliefs very strongly.
As a first year international student, I dreamt of experiencing the difference America had to offer. And this experience has clearly been a huge part. It was very touching to actually witness the diversity of the world and its cooperation together in this community. For instance, although the family and I come from the same region in Southeast Asia, we came here with different purposes and yet we both left in each other’s heart a big impact, at least they did to me. The world may seem cruel and ferocious however, I am happy to see that there are people that see the goodness and enforce peace. However, I learned from the class that the whole process of admitting refugees and the settlement was quite ineffective and limited, moreover, as for my refugee family, they are considering moving back to Thailand due to their inability to find jobs, although it seems that the children might be at an advantage living in America learning English with a more open perspective. I believe that if the settlement process was better planned out for future refugees this situation could be prevented.
I am challenged to reach out for those that lack basic human rights and especially refugees in my community in the future as well. Honestly, I believe I was very lucky to have met this wonderful family that made the whole experience more than pleasant, and this does not guarantee that my future experience will be likewise, however I am challenged to help and raise awareness because although little things, I believe that when done with honesty and passion can make a difference like the family has shown me.