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I look at life, especially at this age, as a time to experience new things.A time to get away from the same everyday routine, and enjoy the short time we have on earth. Whether it's to run my own business someday, or just to bring a friend back to church.My beliefs still remain the same, but I have become more open minded to other views.
I know that the refugee experience is a painful series of making the least-worst decisions for your family in hopes for something not-as-bad as your current situation.
I know that if you are a refugee parent, your own hopes and dreams vanish as you devote your existence to create something better for your children.
However, in the streets of downtown Houston, I felt at home, and felt even more urgently that I needed to ensure my Muslim/immigrant/refugee neighbors felt the same. Moreover, my challenge was to answer these questions based on my values and not on my fears.
I don’t want my children making decisions driven by fear, nor do I want us as a country to lead through, and from, fear. Yes, I am also fearful, but I am resolved to continue to fight for compassion and inclusion.
What is worse than having to make the least-worst decision? Saturday was spent in despondency, but not Sunday — Sunday was game time. Houstonians from all nations were there alongside us; police officers were friendly and helpful; taxi drivers honked along to our chants; NFL fans took pictures; and we chatted with newly-made Muslim friends, listening to the stories of how their community has been affected by the travel ban.
Houston came out that Sunday with hope, love, and compassion.
Two years later, after my father and brother managed to make it to a refugee camp in Malaysia, my mother and I escaped on a fishing boat that quickly became lost at sea. On the 21st day, we were rescued by an American naval supply ship, the , in the South China Sea, and taken to a refugee camp in Singapore.
We eventually reunited with my family and arrived in Houston as one of the tens of thousands of Vietnamese boat people to seek asylum in what would become our new home.
This weekend, I spent a lot of time thinking about the Syrian refugees in particular. She launched into a two-minute monologue, which clearly wasn’t going to work on a 1-by-3-foot sign. As we watched an incredible performance by a local lion dancing troop, I was struck by how very Houston this all was. I was worried about whether it would be safe for them.
Their dreams of going back to Syria have diminished, as are their hopes for resettlement. Ultimately I decided it was important that they see their own parents' values in action. So I asked her questions: What does she believe in? Here I was, eating Chinese dim sum with my Irish-Polish friends, watching a cultural performance at a restaurant owned by Vietnamese refugees before going to a rally for immigrants happening right next to the pre-Super Bowl festivities at Discovery Green and the George R. I’m not going to paint a picture of us walking boldly and confidently towards the rally, however. Standing up and voicing a strong opinion is uncomfortable. But once we were there, my heart swelled with pride.