Breaking Trail: Their Story is Our Story - Liz Jevtic-Somlai
"We had to put a healthy dose of laughter into the situation to make it bearable. Our will to see the good in the hard situation is what helped us make it through the day.”
In early March, Their Story is Our Story Associate Director Elizabeta (Liz) Jevtic-Somlai shared her experience with Lisa Gerber, host of Breaking Trail podcast and Director of Strategy for Their Story is Our Story.
Originally from Yugoslavia, today’s Serbia, Liz now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. As a teenager, she and her family were forced to flee a country she loved to find new roots and a new way in a strange and unwelcoming country. In sharing her experience during the podcast, she expressed hope to make it more approachable to talk about the refugee journey and destigmatize the label.
While she lost a great deal when she escaped her beautiful country, Liz said, she did not lose who she is or where she came from.
"The importance of sharing the personal narrative is in educating," said Liz during the chat, “We connect to the individual rather than the label itself. With that, people change their thoughts and their actions. Over time, we see an increase in people wanting to help - a crucial element in achieving a wholesome integration into communities."
The podcast aired on Breaking Trail on March 28, 2022.
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.