Hands, hearts and minds
Steps forward to a more inclusive world
“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.”— Carlos Fuentes.
All photographs on this page were created by Andy Bonura for ECDC/African Community Center
Well, our first Podcast, entitled “We Made This,” is up and running now on podcast services Spotify, Anchor and Pocket Casts with more of your favorite services forthcoming.
Crossings: the Refugee Experience in America is a podcast dedicated to helping Americans gain greater cultural competence of the refugee experience in our country.
When we sat down to do this, we realized there was so much we needed to know & unpack to even begin a discussion. What do the terms refugee, asylee, and internationally displaced persons mean in actuality? What are the governing bodies that provide guidance to refugees and the countries & local government that accept them? Once here, how do displaced persons find apartments, acquire English skills, find jobs, schools for their children, learn our currency, find medical and legal assistance? After that, do they grow into indivduals and families that can rise above subsistence and become fully involved in our society and culture?
To improve our understanding, we visited with the pillars of the process: State Department authorized Resettlement Agencies. These are non-profit organizations that help with everything mentioned above and more. We learned the term “integration.” This is the complex process of blending socialization with practical training to help refugees integrate with host nation cultures. We learned of innovators in the field from almost every practice of human endeavor: doctors, lawyers, faith leaders, teachers, writers, artists and others. All are Americans, natural or foreign born, fully committed to being the best hosts by helping newcomers help themselves. Many leverage economic resources to invent and sustain job-building initiatives which don’t burden the everyday American taxpayer. Now we want to pass what we’re learning on to you.
We also want to tell you the personal stories of refugees. Stories about their success. Our process is to do no harm. You won’t find us interviewing our subjects in ways that would re-open the trauma of all they’ve suffered. By now, we should all know why these newcomers are here: they’ve been forcibly displaced by war and persecution with no hope of return to their countries anytime soon without suffering the same and very probably worse.
So, these stories will hopefully invoke respect and empathy, things we can all use more of in our lives. We’ll get to the fact packed dimensions, such as definitions, history and metrics in our second episode. We decided, rather, to start with what we think is a hopeful story about “We Made This.” We Made This is a refugee women’s sewing program in Denver under the supervision of the African Community Center, through the Ethiopian Community Development Council. The program brings practical job skills to the women, while advancing their integration forward. Within a safe and inclusive environment they stride toward the fullness of membership in our complex society and culture.
The rest is simple. Go to the episode page link for our Anchor hosted podcasts or utilize your favorite podcast host service. Thank you so very much for your willingness to learn and for meeting the newcomers and resettlement leaders presented in our podcasts.
Love and Hope in Abundance,
Crossings: the Refugee Experience in America Podcast