The following reflection comes from Richmond Appleton, LIRS’s newest board member, from his exposure visits in Detroit this January.
My experience in Detroit was wonderful and rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own experience as a former refugee and to also engage in ways that help refugees feel welcome into new their communities. I could imagine myself in their experience as they try to learn a new language, transition to a new foster home or a new parent. One of my most memorable moments came when we visited Freedom House, a home open to as many asylum seekers from around the world. While we were visiting one of the asylum seekers received his asylum approval letter from the U.S. immigration. The room was filled with cheers of emotional joy as he was called to receive his surprise and long awaited hope of having legal status in the United States. It was a happy flashback from my refugee experience. Usually after a resettlement interviews which can take many months or sometimes years, in my case, four years, the results are announced by the immigration officials who give each family head a letter containing either an approval or denial notice. The joy and happiness at Freedom House reminded me just exactly the very moment when I received my resettlement approval envelope. Looking back at my experience at the refugee camp and what I have seen in Detroit during the study visits reinforce my desire to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. I am excited to have this huge opportunity to serve on the LIRS Board of Directors and contribute to its mission of promoting a spirit of welcome to refugees and victims of human trafficking.