All posts tagged: World Refugee Day

#WorldRefugeeDay: The first year in America

Mae is one of the most captivating storytellers I know. Every morning, we would have a cup of coffee together and I’d pick her brain for the fragmented memories that I know she’ll soon forget with every passing day. For this year’s #WorldRefugeeDay, I asked mae what she remembers from the first day we arrived in America. She recalled the time as dai meu, dai theen. When we could grow our own hands and feet– to walk and to eat. On the way to America We were riding on the bus to the airport in the Philippines. As we got off, I forgot my water bottle on the bus. I kept saying “water, water, water”. I learned English in primary school but I only remembered survival words. Your baby brother kept tugging at my sinh. He wanted Pepsi and you screamed for candy. Both of you were driving me crazy. I remember when dad wanted to go to the bathroom on the plane, but he held it in during the whole flight because he was scared of how …

Refugee barcode #T-134025

#T-134025 28 years ago 2-year-old Chanida Phaengdara Number T-134025 to Student “P” in 1st Grade A mother A father Seven children Asylum to the Land of 10,000 Lakes 100 degrees to -30 degrees Fahrenheit Food stamps, welfare, Northside housing The smell of moth balls became our second scent First shift, second shift, grave shift to survive the grind The American Dream? Just as long as we’re together as family The reality is: our elders are dying. We are all dying. But our stories don’t have to. The honesty in our past tell us about the struggles of those who came before us and reminds us what we try to understand in the present. Hug your elders. Listen to your family’s stories. Appreciate our shared journey of blood, sweat, and tears. In short, Happy World Refugee Day, fellow ‘fugees.   -Chanida