International Rescue Committee (IRC)

"Arnold Schwarzenegger will meet you at the airport" (and other myths about coming to America)

Today I’m in Bangkok, visiting an IRC office that helps refugees in Asia who can't return to their home countries make an informed decision about whether to apply for resettlement in the United States.  
IRC teams travel to refugee camps in Thailand and to cities across the region to walk those refugees who choose to apply through the necessary paperwork and other logistics. We also help them prepare for new lives in a country most have seen only in Hollywood films.
As you can imagine, cultural orientation is a big part of the job. I asked my Bangkok colleagues about some of the misconceptions the refugees they speak with here have about life in America.
The latest myth making the rounds in the camps, they say, is that screen star/governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger himself will meet refugees at the airport when they arrive in the U.S. "Whisper down the lane" games, like this one (above) organized by the IRC and played by Karen refugees in Mae La Oon camp in northern Thailand, illustrate just how such rumors get started -- and make it easier for refugees bound for America to distinguish Hollywood dreams from reality.
I’ll be blogging and tweeting (at more about our resettlement work soon. Tomorrow, I am planning to visit the IRC’s other Bangkok office, headquarters for IRC programs that provide health care, water, education, legal aid and other assistance for Burmese refugees in Thailand.

No comments yet.