|Photo Credit: Jesuit Refugee Services|
Prepared By: Melanie Marie Jimenez
|Photo Credit: Doug Mills of the New York Times|
Despite the language barrier, I was able to establish a community in Japan. I was a stranger, but I was welcomed. I was greeted by a very welcoming community that was eager to teach me their language and culture as well as to learn about mine. As a result, we established a mutual respect for one another and I found myself wanting to learn everything I could about the way of life in my host country. By learning together and from each other, I formed a bond and a community with my new neighbors. I can still remember vividly how proud I felt the day I was able to navigate to a tiny Japanese restaurant off the beaten path, order off of a Japanese menu, and communicate in Japanese with the wait staff. That simple routine was a turning point for me. It made Japan feel like home.
I was reminded of that moment and my personal sense of pride, belonging, and acceptance when Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) presented their education programs worldwide to service refugees. What greater gift can you provide than to welcome a refugee, provide them with an education, and teach them the language of their new home so they can adapt to their new environment? Watching videos of children receiving an education for the first time(like the one below) was powerful. Having come from a strong, Jesuit educational background I had taken for granted what a gift it is to learn. JRS strives to provide refugees with that gift during their darkest times, when they are struggling to establish a new identity and way of life.
"Education is a key in combating the evil of hatred, violence and war. I'm ever more convinced of that," said JRS International Director Fr Peter Balleis S.J. "Learning is a way to nourish, in a situation of utter despair, the hope in people." I hope that you too will take the time to educate yourself on the issues facing refugees and victims of human trafficking. More importantly, I hope you will join me in supporting the efforts of JRS to provide an education to refugees so that they too can learn, "what they need to know for life." Education can serve as hope to a refugee. It can open up paths to a future refugees never imaged. Education can also aide in eliminated the fear of the unknown. My hope is that once we educate ourselves alongside refugees, we can begin to have conversations about our shared communities as people, not as legals v. illegals, regulars v. irregulars, documented v. undocumented, but as people.
Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Obama Immigration Actions: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/us/politics/supreme-court-to-hear-challenge-to-obama-immigration-actions.html?_r=0
Obama faces reckoning on immigration at Supreme Court: http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/266771-obama-faces-reckoning-on-immigration-at-supreme-court