The Mosaic of Our Future
"It has been one year since the refugee crisis landed on our doorstep here in Germany with the suddenness of a tsunami. In these last twelve months my horizons have been stretched, my heart pulled, my life lit up and my perspective forever changed. I now consider many beautiful men, women and children, whom I ordinarily should never have met, to be some of my closest friends. But these times are anything but ordinary...never before in history has the world been in such flux.
"Their world was shattered, and the pieces are being sprinkled like some new mosaic across ours. It is up to each one of us to determine what our new shared world picture will look like. Peaceful or in turmoil. Accepting and open or discriminating and closed. Integrated and colorful or segregated and black and white.
"Whatever we decide, their future is our future. Their story is our story."
- Trisha Leimer, TSOS President, quoted in November 2016.
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.