A Forgotten Life Lesson
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
<blockquote>This article was written by <strong>Sohrab Saljooki</strong>, Hello Neighbor Network’s 2022 summer intern. Sohrab is a rising senior studying History and Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.</blockquote><figure><img alt="" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1024/1*qubs6B2CodD25_H80Tyaug.jpeg" /><figcaption>Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day Celebration, June 20, 2022.</figcaption></figure><p>June 20th was <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/world-refugee-day.html">World Refugee Day</a> and Pittsburgh celebrates it every year. As a son of a refugee mother, I never knew there was a World Refugee Day and was even less keyed into celebrating the name. However, as a new intern for <a href="https://www.helloneighbor.io/">Hello Neighbor</a>, I wanted to learn more about the communities here in the United States that share the label of many of my family members. So, I volunteered to help run our table at the event.</p><p>Immediately, the table was daunting. I had to get up to speed on the language we use and our talking points. Many people would come up to our table with very specific questions, many of which I didn’t have good answers to. I was and still am new, learning as I go.</p><p>As I got more comfortable with delivering the necessary information, I focused less on what I was saying and more on truly listening to what others were saying. Many came to the table looking for refugees to talk to for their projects, many came to better understand refugee issues, and most importantly to me, many refugees and immigrants came to the table.</p><p>Hello Neighbor is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of refugees and immigrants, so when these groups asked for more information for future events or applicable aid, I knew what to say and where to point them. Hello Neighbor had prepared me for that.</p><p>What I was not prepared for was the true openness of the refugee and immigrant community. So many would share their stories and situations. Just like my family when they first arrived in the Americas, many newly arrived refugees and immigrants were having trouble one way or another, but to many this wasn’t the end of their time at the table.</p><h3>In one breath they would talk about their experiences and ask how Hello Neighbor could help them, and in the very next they would ask how they could be involved with Hello Neighbor and sign our volunteer sheet.</h3><p>On that day, I was thinking of growing up with my mother. We never had it easy in the United States, but she always emphasized the importance of giving. If someone is struggling and needs help, then help them: that is what community is for. If you have extra resources, then donate them, whether it be money, clothing, or an extra room in your home: that is what it means to be a neighbor. Even in the face of economic deprivation and ethnic discrimination, we always found the time to help a friend set up their wedding or donate extra money to our extended family in Afghanistan: my mother made sure of it.</p><p>Living away from my mother to study at Carnegie Mellon University for the last three years had been hard, but now I realize that I had lost that part of me. I had become insular to the Pittsburgh community as I was hyper-focused on my schoolwork. After seeing so many thriving refugee and immigrant businesses and eager people at World Refugee Day, I realized all I needed was to embrace that community.</p><p>I will make sure not to skip out anymore: there is so much to learn and receive, but also so much to give.</p><figure><img alt="" src="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/202/0*lOh8tMYGPwlj0Da_.png" /></figure><p>Learn more about the <a href="https://www.neighbornetwork.io/">Hello Neighbor Network</a>. The Hello Neighbor Network is currently accepting applications. <a href="http://eepurl.com/hnAmkT">Sign up for our newsletter</a> to be the first to know the latest from the Network.</p><img alt="" height="1" src="https://medium.com/_/stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSource=full_rss&postId=f472467cac1" width="1" /><hr /><p><a href="https://medium.com/hello-neighbor-network/a-forgotten-life-lesson-f472467cac1">A Forgotten Life Lesson</a> was originally published in <a href="https://medium.com/hello-neighbor-network">Hello Neighbor Network</a> on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.</p>
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