This post Christmas week, I had an wonderful opportunity to have one refugee student accompany my family on our trip to Washington D.C.. I was thrilled. This was a young man of limited English literacy skills but full of the desire to know and to learn about the world around him.
I find it ironic that so many think that the key to success is learning English, when really the key to greater understanding is an education in the liberal arts. The liberal arts provides a context for a world outside of the refugee camp.
Our first day is Washington, we landed tickets to the visit the US Holocaust museum. It is an amazing place. However bringing a refugee to the museum added a level of depth that I had not ancticipated.
As we went from exhibit to exhibit documenting the atrocious of the Holocaust, my student would point at pictures and say to me, “I know that” or “I lived that”. Sometimes he would encourage me saying “If you go to Burma, you see that”.
I could not read his reaction. It was a sense of the familarity of pain and death. Suffering recognizing suffering.
What can I tell this young man, when a chant is “Never Again”?
What solace could I find? It appears that the solace was for me, not him. When I strolled through the Hall of Rememberance, I found my self confronted with my answer:
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
Perhaps it was a moment of recognition. What we do does matter. Please support our Refugees. They matter!