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International Rescue Committee’s Young People Share Their Journeys to America

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VOX ATL visited with a group of young people working International Rescue Committee this summer.  During a self-expression workshop, we focused on helping them feel comfortable with public speaking, exploring their talents and opinions, as well as working on their interviewing skills. In the time we spent together, three IRC participants wrote and shared about their experiences in America. Here are their thoughts.

By Mu Ni, 20, Georgia State University (Clarkston Campus), first-generation college student

I was born in Thailand, but my parents are originally from Myanmar. I have never seen my siblings or relatives. When I was in Thailand, due to the civil war in Myanmar, we were not able to cross [the] border. Then, my family and I moved to the United States, which is very far from Myanmar. I thought that I would never have a chance to meet them.

I came to the U.S. in 2009 and my family had a hard time connecting to connect with my siblings in Myanmar. My dad always wanted to visit or go back to Myanmar to see his sons or daughters that he left for more than 20 years. He had been working very hard and saved money for the [airplane] ticket.

After working hard in America for eight years, he was able to afford the [airplane] tickets for himself and me. I finally met my siblings for the first time in my life. They all have families, and I got to meet my nieces and nephews. However, I felt very sad to see how they live and what they have gone [through].

They all live in a small village where there are no jobs, so they all have to work in farms. Some of my nephews [had to] drop out of school because their parents were unable to afford their school fees. They did not have electricity and clean water. They have to use rain for drinking and showering.

I hope I can support them and be able to bring them in the U.S.

By Bahati Leonard, 20, Clarkston High School

Ever since I came here in the U.S., things have been so difficult for my community, especially with girls and women. Many of my friends are now married only because they got pregnant. This pregnant thing has been too much and I am concerned about it. This issue is making [girls] drop out of school. Our boys are taking this opportunity to ruin their lives. If this doesn’t stop, a lot of my mates are going to drop out of school and end up in homes that will make their lives a living hell.

I have a friend, a close one, who got pregnant, and she was later given to the man who impregnated her. Later, she left him because he was not faithful. He kept chasing other girls, yet he had a wife and a daughter. She is a girl [who] I used to advise every single day we met, but now she is at her father’s house.

I feel like I need to do something about it because it is not healthy, and a lot of dreams are not being achieved. We came here to make our lives better, but my people, my community, are not doing so. We need change for the girls to go to school and achieve what they have been dreaming.

By Mahbooba Hashmi, 15, Tucker High School

I am worried. In my country, I knew about rules and language, but here [in the U.S.] I don’t know about rules and language. In the future, I want to be a lawyer. I want to be a judge. Justice is very difficult to establish. I believe in the future, I will [be] a successful judge, and know I will try. I want to work in the IRC office, and I try [to be] the person I want to be in the future.

Click here for more about immigration and voices of young immigrants and refugees. 

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Click here for more information about the International Rescue Committee and their work in the Atlanta

Photo credit: Terell Wright

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