#3 Refugee Interviews

For these interviews, I decided to focus on the refugee controversy in Vermont and in the US. I interviewed 2 people, my Dad and the father of a close friend of mine. My dad is no expert on the topic, but he is very tuned in on local events, and is a very opinionated person. Needless to say, he had lots to say on this topic. My friends father, however, is very knolagable on this topic and is actually writing a book about refugees in Vermont. He has been interviewing many people in the past few years, and he knows lots about the controversy and the refugees in general.

The two opinions were very similar, though the interviews took very different paths as they continued. Interview one focused mostly on the debate that is happening in the US and his opinion on refugees, while interview two focused mostly on the refugees themselves, what they have been through and why they are here. Lets take a look at the two interviews.

Interview one was very passionate about accepting more refugees and how they benefit our community. He highlighted how the US is already a nation of immigrants, and how immigrants have always been a part of what makes the US a cultured and vibrant country. Refugees are defined as such because they are being oppressed in their home country, and one of our duties as people with a conscious is to help people less fortunate than us. Europe is already being put under a huge strain because of the large amount of refugees it has been forced to take from Syria and other middle-eastern countries, and taking some of the bulk of these refugees seems like the most humane thing to do. Something he said really struck me. “It’s not about taking everyone, it’s about helping people less fortunate than us. Refugees did not ask for this war”. Those are highlights from interview one. 

Interview two focused more on the specific lives of refugees, and why they are leaving their countries to come to the US. As said earlier, interview two is very informed on the subject, and he knows and has interview many refugees in Vermont. In the 20 years, over 7000 refugees have migrated to Vermont, the largest of which have come from Somalia, Bhutan, Vietnam, and Bosnia. You have to know that Vermont is not an ideal place for refugees to come. Our state is viewed as a very expensive place for Refugees to settle, and the climate here can be very shocking to those who have spent their lives in Africa and the Middle East. For these reasons, many settle in towns like Burlington and Winooski, where it tends to be cheaper to live. As a result, many new stores and restaurants have popped up in these places as refugees open up places that sell food that other immigrants are used to. This has put added a whole new culture to these towns. 

There was another aspect of Interview two that really struck me. He talked about how some of the refugees are here because of wars that the US started, and many of the refugees did not want to come here. Many of these people have family and successful businesses in the places they are coming from. He shared with me a quote from a refugee from Iraq that he interviewed. “We originally live in Iraq. We live all our lives in Iraq, we never planned to come here or anywhere. Everyday people are killed in our neighborhood. We never knew who they would kill next. They had a kill list, every day. One day we learned we had been put on it. So we left.” He shared with me many stories just like this, of refugees that never planned on coming here, but were forced to. He told me of refugees that had spent over 20 years in a refugee camp before coming to the US. “Some of these people had amazing lives before coming to the US”. It is our job to help them.

Interview two was very supportive of refugees in America. He said that it can be hard, because you want them to keep their culture as well as absorb our culture, but he said that refugees only benefit our community. “I think that our vetting process is very good”he says. He also claims that refugees are more law abiding than American citizens usually are. “They are less dependent of social services” He says that refugees are a great addition to Vermont, and that the syrian refugees in Rutland is “One big over reaction” .

All in all, both interviews had very similar views, but they had very different takes on what I was asking them. Interview one got me thinking accepting refugees, and how it’s our moral duty to accept them. What really struck me with the second interview was how he really talked about the refugees on a personal level, what they had been through and why they were coming here. My think has evolved a lot since before these interviews. I have gone from thinking about refugees as a whole, fleeing their countries and coming here for a better life, to thinking about them on a personal level, how they don’t necessarily want to come here, and they were forced to flee from their countries. I think that these interviews have really educated me on this subject, and I am excited to learn about this further.

Nigel Wormser

3 Responses to “#3 Refugee Interviews

  • Hey Nigel,
    you have some great points here. I especially like the point about considering the sufferers on a personal basis and not as a whole. I think this is definitely the right thing to do.
    I also have a question that presented itself after that horrible story you shared about the “kill list” (that was a great example, by the way): who is “they” in the phrase “they have a kill list”? That would be interesting to know.
    One last thing: whenever I write a piece, I always have someone else read it over to catch silly grammar and spelling mistakes that I invariably make, as it is very easy to miss your own errors . I noticed a couple of typos in there, so perhaps that might be a helpful strategy for you, too.
    Thanks for a great blog!
    See you later,

  • Hi Nigel,

    Great work! This was a very interesting post to read. I love the different perspectives in both interviews and the points that each person was making. This is certainly a very hot topic in VT right now! I am curious though, what are your thoughts on this issue?

    You’re doing a great job and I can’t wait to see where you go with this!


  • Hi Nigel,
    This is a very interesting post! Sorry my response is coming a bit late I had trouble finding the post. The point about the refugees liking their lives before they moved here was a great point because I do not think this is an angle people think of when they think about this topic. It was also cool to see the parallels and contrasts between the two interviews. I would love to hear more about the refugees on a personal level because I think this provides some really great depth on your issue and makes it really personal and easy to connect with the people you talk about. This is a great topic and I can’t wait to hear more!
    Thank you for the post!

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