When an Israeli refugee named Meg moved to America a month ago, she didn’t know a soul.
Meg, who is originally from Mongolia, had been living in Israel and immigrated to the United States by herself, leaving behind her mother and son.
Little did she know, she’d soon have family stateside after a refugee settlement worker took her under her wing.
Rachel Zupan is the Women’s Empowerment Program Coordinator and Survivors of Torture Case Manager at Us Together in Columbus, Ohio.
Zupan’s co-worker, Sophie, who has roots in Israel, was excited to host someone from her father’s homeland and communicate in Hebrew, but didn’t have the room at her apartment.
So Zupan opened her home and heart to someone who didn’t even speak English, and says it was the best experience she’s ever had:
“I knew it would be awkward at first, at least for her since she didn’t know me or anyone for that matter. But my time living with Meg was amazing!”
Since Sophie was the only person who could really translate for Meg, she was typically shy around anyone else.
But Zupan tells Independent Journal Review their friendship blossomed one morning when they were eating breakfast in silence:
“While normally I enjoy silence, I can’t imagine how it felt for her to just sit around not able to communicate with anyone except Sophie.
So I got out my phone and started using Google Translate to ask her questions in Mongolian and she would try to answer in English since there was no Mongolian keyboard available for her to type back. That morning was really when the ice broke.”
Pretty soon, Meg started surprising her new friend by cleaning her entire apartment while she was at work, cleaning her dishes and even playing with her cats— something Zupan never expected.
The two grew closer as the days went on, making grocery runs together and Meg even studied English to better communicate.
But after a month, Meg finally landed a job as a pastry chef at a local shop, something she had been dreaming of for a long while.
Zupan recently moved Meg into an apartment of her own and says she instantly wanted to return the favor of hospitality to her new friends:
“The best moment in recent times was when we were moving her into her apartment. We brought in a dining room table with four chairs that someone had donated. She got really excited and told Sophie something in Hebrew. Sophie said that she was excited to have four chairs because she could have me, Sophie, and my roommate over for dinner. She said she wanted to have her ‘friends’ over, so it was just great to be able to feel like we were a community for her.”
Meg apparently told Zupan she always thought she’d end up living on a mattress in a small one bedroom apartment; never in her wildest dreams did she think she’d have something as simple as tables and chairs, let alone friends.
“I feel like I gained not just a friend, but a family member. I miss seeing her when I get home from work.”
Zupan says, despite missing Meg, she’s proud of how well she’s adjusted to America and hopes by sharing her story that more people won’t quickly judge refugees in our country.
Source: Independent Journal Review