November 25, 2021
A Thanksgiving Message from Our CEO
Several years ago, my family had the great honor of introducing our Thanksgiving tradition to a newly arrived family from Syria.
They were our Syrian doppelgangers — they too had five children, including a set of twins. The father had been a teacher, and they had fled to Turkey when his school was bombed and he and his eldest son were under increasing threat to choose allegiances or pay the price in Syria’s civil war. Ultimately, they were able to find safety and rebuild their lives when they were resettled to the United States.
We got halal turkeys, which gave me the deeply meaningful opportunity to share with my kids parts of my own religious tradition, and hilarious stories long forgotten of my parents’ search for halal meat when they first arrived in the United States 40-plus years prior. But we may as well have skipped the Thanksgiving cooking, as our Syrian friends arrived with heaping plates of chicken, rice, and sweets prepared in traditional — and delicious — Syrian style.
We had a beautiful evening together, and my family was left with our hearts full of thanks that these friends had come into our lives, and gratitude that we live in a nation that made the friendship possible. We live in a nation that provides safety and refuge to those who need it. We live in a nation that welcomes newcomers. We live in a nation that gives newcomers a path to hope and opportunity not on the basis of citizenship but on the basis of their humanity. We learned as much about us, and our country, that night, as we did about our friends.
This year, thousands of Afghan refugees will celebrate their first Thanksgiving in the U.S. We have the opportunity to share our gratitude for their service, their sacrifice, and their safety, and to ensure that their first Thanksgiving is a memorable one, marked by the kindness, compassion, and welcome of the American people.
Organizations across the country are working to meet Afghan refugees’ most critical needs this Thanksgiving — and you can help: Through Welcome.US, you can donate to front-line organizations in your community. You can also donate to the Welcome Fund, donate airline miles to help provide flights for refugees, or learn how to host a family in your home in partnership with Airbnb.org. I hope you will join your fellow Americans in taking one of these welcoming actions.
- Nazanin Ash