Refugee Winter Rainstorm

I’m sitting in my office with boxes of donated childrens’ books and endless to do lists and people to call, trying to head off a Bernie hangover from the morning.

Waiting in line since 10 this morning downtown Kansas City, we finally made it past secret service to see Bernie at 1, still standing.

I don’t really have any strong opinions about politics right now… they are more entertaining than anything. I’m feeling really content working on the local level, and seeing real change and real problems in the people of the city. Especially the new people of the city, of the country, who BC and I have been visiting on the weekends.

I’ve worked every weekday and every weekend for at least two weeks straight, and I am tired, man. And have a Bernie headache. So I’m writing to end my shift at work. Sipping on some colder coffee, and trying to push aside all the lists around me that are overwhelming me.

Last night I had a moment where everything seemed too intricate, too highly stacked, too much to begin. But then today I slept in, made my way to the Bernie rally.

The couple behind BC and me coincidentally knew my grandparents, and knew the falcon noises BC had been reading about, and the husband used to work at my work. There were infinite connections, and the wife put her gloves on her feet that were exposed to the cold. I had offered her my socks, but I guess people don’t just trade socks with strangers wearing combat boots. Good thing, because the boots make my feet sweat. She had Bernie earrings she had made, and he had come face to face with Bobby Kennedy when he was in 5th grade.

It was a show. A show that we waited, and waited, and waited in the cold for. All of these people. So many people did not get in, but we did. And we saw the Bern man with his white hair. And the first thing BC said to me as Bernie walked in and croaked his first invocation to the masses, was not complimentary.

But Bernie man did a great job, and I was impressed. Though my back was hurting from all the standing, and the man in the cowsuit next to me kept mooing with an incredible persistence.

After the rally BC and I grabbed a late lunch at a pizza place, and then went to work.

Tonight I’m going over to a work friend’s place for Indian food. I’m bringing beer.

I realize that I have been working way too much, and not giving myself enough time to truly be myself. I’ve been putting everything else aside, because I seem to have stumbled upon a dream job. Something that I genuinely feel that I was meant to do, something that I enjoy doing, something that never gets boring, and never really gets comfortable. Ultimate progress. I am already learning so much, I take care not to point my feet at people in public, or show the soles of my feet. I don’t shake hands with men from any part of the world anymore, because there are devoutly Muslim people all over the world, and you can’t tell just by looking at them. I don’t take pictures of women who are Muslim, and I will from now on always stand by the side of someone who doesn’t speak English who is in a public place. It’s not an insult to them, it’s a reassurance at the least.

I thought I was worldly in college, when I met all the study abroad students. But now I realize that I was only meeting a certain type of person in college– generally people who were educated on the larger world, or at least Western culture. People who, even if they weren’t raised to act like me, could do a really good job of acting like it when they were in my presence.

And now I’m just really beginning to see the beauty of the movement, of the culture, of the ever changing people that grace this earth. I have had the pleasure to begin to learn about 10 countries intimately, and begin to dive into all the beautiful intricacies and contradictions inside the various cultures existing in each.

I am only beginning, but I am so excited because I have finally realized that I am only beginning. And I feel that I have a unique chance to share the voices of those not heard from in our society: the new Americans, the refugees.

I’m not traveling this year, but I feel that I am flying much greater distances than I ever have in my life. I have been to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central and South America on a daily basis. In passing, and in their homes, being served chai tea and endless treats I have never seen before.

Endless hospitality from people who literally just arrived in the US with nothing but their documentation. I get to connect these people to the broader Kansas City community, and the American community, and I want to learn how to do this well.

I want to help refugees feel comfortable and welcome and start new lives, and I want to help people who have been in America a little longer to expand their cultural horizon like I am getting the unique chance to do.

I am learning to listen like never before, and I would never be able to rationalize to myself why I didn’t document this time in my life as I meet the people of the world.

So, beginning a new blog this year on refugees and immigration.

 

 

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