Resettling as a refugee can be difficult. Refugees encounter prejudices and hostility from many directions. Some refugees move to the United States not knowing even basic English. Some arrive not knowing how to use an ATM or even a stove! On the flip side, some refugees arrive here after years as a working professional in their home country, only to have to start over completely — and usually not in their chosen professions.
Getting resettled is a process filled with challenges that people born and raised here can hardly imagine. It’s also a process filled with unexpected joys. Refugees arrive in the United States with assumptions of safety and freedom. They hope that their children will be able to attend school and that they will find work that sustains them. But there are things they don’t dare dream or know to anticipate — wonderful, unforeseen things.
We asked our refugee artisans to tell us about the surprises that have happened in their lives since they arrived in the U.S. Here’s what they said.Catherin
“When we first arrived, we were worried about everything, but each year that I am here, life gets easier and happier. I love my job and working with the GAIA team. Paula, Lauren, and Alyssa love me and love my kids — and that makes me happy!”
“First of all, I thank God for bringing me to this country, because I do not worry about war at all. Secondly, I am very happy that GAIA helped me with this job. Because of my earnings, I was able to buy a house, and am now living in my own home with my family because of your support. Thanks you so much, God bless you!”
“I didn’t expect to have a job that I liked — and I love my job at GAIA! And I didn’t expect for my children to receive such good education.”
“I’ve become a U.S. citizen! I am now able to travel to visit my friends and family, who I miss very much. My husband and I are also earning more money than I ever dreamed we would be able to.
“I never dreamed I would learn to drive a car! Now I drive all over by myself!”
“When my husband and I first got here, we were shocked by everything. We didn’t speak English, and we had a hard time finding jobs. I didn’t think we’d ever figure things out, but now we are doing well and looking forward to our future.”
“I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see my children again. I didn’t think that as a Syrian I would be able to leave the U.S. and return, but I was recently able to travel to see them after not being able to do so for seven years!”
“What’s surprised me most are the friends I’ve made. I never dreamed that I’d have so many friends. I didn't expect to be surrounded by the love and support that I have, especially where I work. I consider myself to be very lucky and blessed by God that I didn't have to try a lot of jobs before I found myself in a place that is full of kind, loving, considerate people.”
“We got a car as a gift, but — more than that — I started to practice driving!”
"Everything about coming to America has been a wonderful surprise!”