I was born in China to a family that faced generations of political turmoil and persecutions. My great-grandfather passed away as a political prisoner at 78 years old, and my grandfather was a refugee who fled to Hong Kong during the Chinese civil war. My talented parents, despite having only a 6th-grade education because of the Cultural Revolution and knew that life would be difficult in the U.S., were determined to come to America because they wanted a brighter future for their children. At the age of 12, I immigrated to California.
As I reflect back on my life - from that little girl in China to now an executive at a global consulting firm - I hold a deep sense of gratitude. I know that I am where I am today not because I am smarter or work harder than others; it is, for the most part, because I have won life’s lottery.
But haven’t we all won life’s lottery? Compared to Syrian professionals who are living in refugee camps because of the war with no prospect to rebuild their lives, haven’t we won life’s lottery? Compared to the Rohingya mother who saw her child brutally murdered before her eyes simply because she’s a Rohingya, haven’t we won life’s lottery?
Today, the world refugee crisis has reached historic scale with more than 65 million people forced to flee their home simply because they were born in the wrong time and wrong place in history. I see that it is my obligation, as someone who has been so graciously blessed in life, to ease fear and build compassion by reminding the world that refugees are like us – they are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and they simply want a safer and better life for their family and children.
My gratitude has motivated me to co-found the One Journey Festival, a day-long, large-scale celebration of refugee talents and contributions. The festival is free to all and will take place on Saturday, June 2, 2018, on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. The festival will draw 3,000+ participants and build connections among cultures through food, fashion, music and dance as we celebrate refugee talents and stories. The festival aims to change the narrative about refugees and empower participants to take actions to stand in solidarity with our global displaced brothers and sisters.
If you feel moved to make a difference in the refugee crisis, get your free tickets today and come join us at the festival. Every effort you make, no matter how small, is your way of telling the world that while we may walk on different paths, all of us are on one journey of humanity together.
Wendy Chan is a community organizer and she co-founded the One Journey Festival. She is also an executive at Accenture.
USA for UNHCR is a proud sponsor of the One Journey Festival.