African Food is Delicious: TSOS at the One Journey Festival
On June 24, 2023, TSOS had the opportunity to join with NoVA Friends of Refugees and other organizations at the One Journey Festival, a celebration of unity, diversity, and refugee contributions and talent.
It was so fun.
There were dozens of booths of organizations on the ground helping refugees. There were performances of refugee talents, including dance, poetry readings, and singing. There was an entire row of arts and crafts for sale, all benefitting refugees. I spent a long time admiring some paintings done by a refugee from Ukraine, all sunflowers. If I could, I would have bought them all. And the food! Food trucks of all different varieties were lined up down the road. I ate plaintains, beans, chicken and red rice from an African food truck. Absolutely delicious. The food alone was worth the trip.
TSOS displayed a map, "We all share a home", signifying how all of us are one. The map made people curious about our work, and so many people added a fingerprint to our map, showing where their story started. We had prints from all over the world.
In addition to organizations, many refugees also attended the festival, looking for help, information, connection, and also just looking to have a nice time on a lovely day. Our intern- turned-volunteer, Nagita, helped translate. A refugee from Afghanistan, Nagita is passionate about women's rights and education.
Throughout the day, as we spoke to so many different people from so many different places who had so many stories to tell, I felt grateful to be a part of it all. Diversity adds richness to our lives and to our communities. And we have so much to learn from each other.
Thank you again to One Journey Festival for having us. We are looking forward to next year!
Imagine being a skilled professional–a doctor even–respected in your field. And then war erupts, displacing you from your home, your family, your livelihood, your identity. When such a physician arrives in the United States, their credentials and expertise are erased and they must study for, and pass three United States Medical Licensure Exams (USMLEs), each of which involves fees and lengthy study programs. In addition, they must complete a residency program which are extremely competitive. Given the low-income, high-living expense lifestyles refugee doctors face upon arrival, these are steep barriers to overcome. TSOS is working to make these obstacles surmountable.
When describing the work I do here at TSOS, I often say, we try to help people “step into each other’s stories.” Lately, I’ve been doing more of that myself.
Just as citizens in Europe and the U.K. have heroically supported displaced Ukrainians by opening up their homes or securing other housing, assisting with school enrollments, employment needs, and language learning, Americans now have the opportunity via the Welcome.us Sponsor Circles program to directly help newly arrived Ukrainians. The United States has committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians temporarily for a period of two-years and the ability to apply for employment authorization in the U.S. as long as they have a U.S.-based sponsor to petition for them.