A few grains remain in the hourglass as the twilight of my volunteer experience grows to close. As I reflect on the past nine months, I begin to question what I have learned and who have I become.
Throughout this experience, I have worked at HIAS PA, a refugee resettlement in Philadelphia, PA. I recall reviewing their mission statement online before interviewing for the position. I was curious how this agency would incorporate their mission of “Welcoming the Stranger” in its daily work. I received an answer on my first day as I was warmly greeted by the staff. Moreover, I witnessed how they interacted with clients from diverse cultural, racial, socioeconomic, and spiritual backgrounds. They celebrated this diversity rather than treating it as a wall of division. From this moment on, I knew I was in for something special.
So, what else did I learn during the past few months?
This experience reminds me that true evil continues to plague the world through violence and persecution. However, I also know that there are altruistic people dedicated to vanquishing this evil and upholding peace and justice.
I am also reminded of the diversity and individuality that each person possesses. Although our thoughts, beliefs, and backgrounds may vary, we all share a common tether as members of a global community. We don’t need to earn the same amount of money, speak the same language, worship the same god, or have the same skin color to express our love for one another. This beautiful interconnectivity bisects all physical, linguistic, and socioeconomic barriers and shows how we are all emotionally and spiritually intertwined as members of the human race.
I could share a litany of stories and lessons learned from HIAS PA where I have seen moments of intrinsic compassion, gratitude, and love. I would love to have a quick chat if you are interested in hearing these stories! However, the last lesson I want to share occurred at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. This exhibit reminded me of the struggles our refugee and asylee clients experience before coming to the United States as they escaped war, famine, and certain death. Our clients flee the burning embers of hostile environments in pursuit of a beacon of hope elsewhere.
As I approached the end of this museum, I noticed the quote shown above in my blog. It solidifies my new understanding of what a global community is. If we continue to ignore the desperate cries of those that suffer, then what will we become? Are we meant to only serve ourselves? If so, who will support us when we falter? Who will carry us when we are weak? Who will love us when we don’t love ourselves? Luckily, this doesn’t have to be our reality. We can change this narrative by recognizing the global community that connects us all as members of the human race.
Philadelphia, PA 2018-2019