Holidays always make me nostalgic and I was thinking about how things become so ingrained in us as kids that we don’t even realize it because we don’t know any different. For example, on camping trips in the Adirondacks, my dad would take us “sniper hunting” after dark. I may be misremembering the name of what we were hunting for, but I’m pretty sure it was snipers. We brought flashlights and paper bags and went into the trees, put the bag on the ground with the flashlight inside it, so it cast a beautiful glow to the immediate surrounding. We’d step back and call, “here sniper sniper sniper….” It was always exciting and a little scary. Important to note, we never caught one.
Even until I was a teenager, I had no idea that it was just a game out in the woods having fun. That’s because snipers aren’t a thing. (I pictured them as small squirrel-like animals).
On a heavier note, some incidents and stories get seeded in our brains that make deep grooves. Don’t even get me started on those. I mean, this is why therapists always begin with “tell me about your childhood,” right?
As you’re reading this, what comes to mind for you – what things happened that have influenced the way you see the world now? It’s a challenging question. After all, as I said earlier, we don’t necessarily realize its influence because we don’t know any different. If we become aware and think about it, we start to make connections.
For example, like many of you, I learned about the Holocaust at a very young age. I remember all too well the terror I felt when I heard about families being displaced from the comfort of their homes, children separated from parents and put on trains, and the subsequent horror of life in a concentration camp. I remember reading The Diary of Ann Frank and feeling, experiencing what it must have been like to find a “friendly” home where they could hide, if only for a time, and of living in the dark attic for so long, only to be discovered. I couldn’t help but think how easily that could have been me as a young girl and it was only for the good fortune of time and place that I was born decades later in a different country than it was not my family and me fleeing persecution and violence. (But it was my family, ancestors I never met).
I didn’t realize what a mark this made on my brain until relatively recently in life, and I can’t mark the exact time. Still, the stories of the people fleeing Central American countries and risking so much to get to the U.S., the Syrian refugees, and now the Afghan refugees, losing a life they built, losing loved ones, risking everything, including their lives to find a better way. It all came back to me why I care so much: Because the difference between them and me is the good fortune (in my case) of time and location. I am the lucky one because I was born in this country at this time. So many others don’t have that good fortune.
So now I have this awareness, and what can I do about it? If I cared deeply enough, I suppose I’d quit my job, move to the border, and try to help. But let’s be real, what will that do? What skills do I have that could help make a difference?
Then, I learned about Their Story is Our Story (TSOS), an organization giving voice to refugees to transform perception and policy. “We envision a world where there is no ‘them,’ only us.”
I met with executive director Kristen Smith Dayley and we hit it off immediately. Now, I’m incredibly proud to be able to marry my skills in storytelling and strategic communication with a thing I care very deeply about. I am volunteering my time as Director of Strategy for TSOS. I am continually amazed by these stories of refugees, and I’m looking forward to what the next year brings as we elevate these stories and use them for change.
I bring it up today because Giving Tuesday is tomorrow and I invite you to consider TSOS in your giving.
You can find more here and consider being a subscribing member for as little as $10/month. Visit your favorite channel to make that happen:
But there is so much more to this story.
This story is also about finding purpose.
It’s also about finding people who deeply care about your idea of change. When you do that, they will drop everything to be a part of it.
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Take care out there,
Some ways I may be able to help you and your team:
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