Written by Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Their Story is Our Story information evening served as the grand finale to a densely-packed USA visit. From last weekend spent at my church's biannual conference, throughout five university lectures I was invited to give, interspersed with time spent with my three university kids Claire, Alessandro and Dalton, it was all a joy. Thank you Jacqueline White for hosting a successful gathering, and Elizabeth Benson, Twila Davis Bird, Garrett Wesley Gibbons, Trisha Bird Leimer, Lindsay Allen Silsby and Morgan Rhys Gibbons, all inspiring co-members of TSOS Refugees, for the artistry, intelligence, and soulfulness which hold this work aloft. And thank you to all of our heroic Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian friends. We care deeply about you and your families and want the world to know you as we do.
The Emerald Project is a Utah-based organization that carefully designs dialogues to engage with non-Muslims to make Salt Lake Valley a more welcoming home to Muslims. As many of our refugee friends belong to the Muslim faith, we applaud opportunities that foster understanding and were pleased to support The Emerald Project’s 3rd annual “Slam the Islamophobia” event on February 15th.
Refugees often risk their lives crossing deserts, jungles, and oceans all in the search for shelter, freedom, or happiness. Yet, even once they’ve reached physical safety, mental mountains emerge that make daily life an uphill climb. At the November 2022 conference for the Utah Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (USOPHE), presenters Shurooq Al Jewari and Sasha Sloan discussed mental health and inclusion, focusing on immigrants and refugees.
Holidays are an important time to include newcomers. Newcomers are often aching for the traditions and holiday magic they knew at home - and the connections with family and friends. The Garcias* came from a strong family and community that knew generous and giving holiday traditions. I knew, when I met our new friends from Venezuela, the rich bond we would have; this was a kindred spirit family. Even though we have been bad at communicating (Google Translate is such a false hope), it was easy to find connections that helped us love each other.