Patrick came to Boise as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. His home country has struggled with violence and human rights abuses for decades.
On Wednesday night at JUMP in Boise, Patrick and two fellow new Americans, who came to the U.S. as refugees from Bosnia and Iraq, spoke about their journeys and assimilating into a new culture. Patrick had a simple and beautiful message: “‘Hi’ can be powerful.” A humble greeting to a stranger can have so much meaning; a smile and ‘hello’ can break down barriers and serve as a welcoming.
United Way of Treasure Valley president and CEO Nora Carpenter moderated the event, part of the Idaho Office for Refugee’s Neighbor Narratives, which celebrates “the diversity in our community through the power of storytelling,” according to the organization’s website.
With an infectious smile and greeting himself, Patrick spoke of his urge to start conversations with smiling faces on a Boise public bus, as talking and storytelling are important cultural aspects of his home country. He is currently a student at Boise State University, studying social services.
All three former refugees shared their love for America. While they have, at times, experienced backlash for their heritage, they have remained positive, pursing jobs, education and happiness here. One of the former refugees, Anita, earned a master’s degree in social work from a prestigious university in the Midwest and currently works in Boise.
The former refugee from Iraq, a surgeon, shared his experiences of traveling the world with Doctors Without Borders and working with the Red Cross to help people. He was also elated to announce to event attendees that he plans to open a new health clinic in Boise later this month.
United Way is proud of support refugees. In 2016, volunteers for United Way of Treasure Valley assembled ‘New American Kits,’ which included basic home and cooking supplies to help refugees settle into their new living situations. United Way donated the kits to the International Rescue Committee office in Boise.
The next Neighbor Narratives discussion is set for Wednesday, April 26, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Boise Public Library! The event is free and open to the public.
We can all do our part in welcoming and supporting refugees. One simple greeting at a time.