In this video, former U.S. Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001) and Henry Kissinger (1973-1977) share their own refugee stories with the International Rescue Committee.

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Video Transcript

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT:  I, in fact, was a refugee. We came to the United States when I was eleven years old in 1948.

HENRY KISSINGER: I was a refugee under relatively ideal circumstances, we suffered persecution, but we could leave as a family.  

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: My father had been in the Czechoslovakian Diplomatic Service. I was a refugee during World War II in England as a little girl and lived through the Blitz.  I then went back and had a fairly glorious life as a daughter of an ambassador.  And then all of a sudden we were again refugees, and came to the United States with nothing 

HENRY KISSINGER: ...when you live in a totalitarian state, it’s an uprooting of whatever ties you had formed. And so I know what this is like.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: We arrived on the East Coast but then ended up in Denver.  And people were so terribly nice and you know provided us with furniture and Christmas presents. And it made me realize how grateful a refugee is and how important it is to be able to fit into some other communities. 

HENRY KISSINGER: ..when you see the mass exodus of people in war situations, or in genocidal situations, that magnifies my personal experience.  But I think my personal experience creates an understanding and, I like to think, a sense of obligation to being sympathetic and supportive. So for all of these reasons I think helping refugees is something this country must do.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Diversity is what makes our societies richer in every single way in the 21st Century .. and diversity is our strength.