Inspiration Day on Sept 24, 2017 was, as billed: Inspirational! news 0 Refugee Storytelling and Building Community Here’s what one attendee, Amy Yontef-McGrath, shared about Inspiration Day on her blog, Follow Me To 50!: Follow Me to … Something Truly Inspirational 9/24/2017 0 Comments KindWorks Inspiration Day 2017 This is not a project but something I’m very inspired to share with you. KindWorks, a sponsor of several of my service projects, hosts an Annual Inspiration Day Tea. I had never heard of it before but now with my 5 senses (sight, sound, speech, thought, and compassion) so sharp, I read about it and wanted to check it out. I’m so glad that I did. This year’s theme was Refugee Storytelling and Building Community. The panel assembled included a holocaust survivor, a woman who escaped Saigon as a young girl, and a man who fled Syria and sought asylum in the U.S. When I went to this event, I knew no one. When I left, I felt very connected. Though I’ve had the privilege of hearing other holocaust survivors speak, listening to Blanche Porway’s story left me speechless and inspired all the same. Opportunities to listen to survivors first hand are becoming rarer and rarer as they are aging and won’t be with us much longer. Blanche herself is 94 years old. Blanche said that her happy childhood ended in 1939 when she was moved to a Poland ghetto and then sent to Auschwitz 2 years later. After losing most of her family to starvation and to the gas chamber, she and her sister survived to see the camp’s liberation. In her strong message of “Never Again”, she plead for us not to allow 1 man to do anything like this again and to open our borders to others. Not only is Blanche a survivor, she is a hero for sharing her story. May we never forget. Thu Tran, a local OB/GYN, told the most amazing story of her family’s escape from Saigon only hours before South Vietnam fell to the communists. Her family left on the second to last helicopter able to take off from the roof of the American Embassy. Thu has a riches to rags and back to riches life story and many clear messages. First: Freedom is not free; it has to be fought for. Second: Refugees are here for a reason — no one leaves their homeland, family, and way of life without good reason. Third: People new to this country aren’t here to “take” things from Americans. Her parents never took advantage of the system. She and her sister would not even accept a free lunch in high school. Lastly, when asked what people here could do to ease the transition of refugees and immigrants, Thu suggested that we help the teens who often overlooked and may struggle in silence. Help them to learn the culture – common American games, holiday customs, etc. is what she recommended. Thu is truly remarkable. Abdullah Al-Sayed, a former officer in the Syrian army, received asylum in the U.S. when his life was threatened after declining to join Asad’s Syrian intelligence. The once military captain worked as a landscaper when he arrived here 6 years ago and and now is thrilled to be an Uber driver. He is grateful to have “learned to fish vs. taking fish” in America and says he needs nothing from anyone – he is happy. I mentioned earlier that my senses feel sharp and heightened on this journey to 50. Well, my sense of taste was also in full swing today. We were served the most delicious food from an amazing company called Foodhini. It is a new food delivery and catering service that employs emerging and self-taught immigrant and refugee chefs. It is a way of bringing the flavors of their home here for all to enjoy. The company was founded by a first-generation American who is an engineer turned MBA graduate of Georgetown University. He was smart, kind, and adorable. I can’t wait to have him cater a dinner or party. Thank you KindWorks for sponsoring this wonderful event and for opening my eyes to the issues surrounding immigration, etc. I will not just reflect and think, I will act! Inspiration Day 2017 was a huge success — what else would I have expected from an organization that has a Chief Inspiration Officer? KindWorks, you are my type of organization! I’ll see you again soon.