2018 has passed and 2019 is upon us! Each day holds beautiful opportunities to do something new. From our Nuevo Camino moms to our long term volunteers, each person has committed to supporting one another in walking toward better futures. From now on, destructive cycles can end. From now on, there’s a reason to get out of bed each morning. From now on, tomorrow can be better than today. What is your “something new?”
In a time when our nation’s highest administration is working to build barriers to keep refugees out of the country, Something New is committed to building community with our neighbors in Clarkston, GA. Clarkston is an example of a community where new neighbors and long-time residents are embracing the challenges that come with building a strong community. It is a place where many cultures and languages collide and where people are discovering the strength in diversity. It is a place where bridges are working better than walls. Clarkston is worth exploring and a powerful place to learn more about refugee resettlement and get involved, now is the time!
With its high population of recently resettled refugees, Clarkston, GA is a vibrant community—rich in diverse experiences, cultures, and by extension—food! Located just a few miles from downtown Atlanta, Clarkston is a small town that takes you on a trip around the world in just a few blocks.
The residents of Clarkston are from all over — Burma, Bhutan, Cuba, Somalia, the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Refugees from these countries bring with them their own ways of life, as well as the incredible and difficult circumstances they have endured on their journey to rebuilding their lives.
About 85% of local businesses are owned by people who came to Clarkston as refugees. Students attend schools where 60 languages are spoken and adults often work multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. As people work to rebuild their lives, about 40% live below the poverty line and many adults are not able to work in the same careers they had in their home countries.
Each refugee has a story of war, separation, violence and hardship and they also share a common drive to build a safe, secure, and brighter future for their children and new community. The daily demonstration of sacrifice and the warm hospitality felt among new neighbors makes Clarkston a unique and powerful place for an alternative break.
Every month New Expression hosts a potluck in Clarkston as an effort to get to know our neighbors and build community. Onur attended our last potluck and was amazed by the event. He is a student of NXP volunteer Cynthia Gibson, and wanted to share his thoughts about the party.
We went to a party which is called as “potluck”. I was not familiar with that term at all. As far as I learnt, it would be a party where immigrants and volunteers come together and share their foods with each other. We had lots of fun and talk with the other parents at the party. I always admire those people who leave their problems aside and spend their time and effort to help to others. I also feel myself close to them as long as I believe that they are sincere.
Yesterday, as a new U.S. President took the oath of office and throngs of protesters gathered in the nation’s capital and across the country, I had a sweet reminder of how important and rewarding it is to have something to fight for, not just something to fight against.
Earlier this week, a united group of people from over many different backgrounds and cultures gathered in Memphis, TN, to advocate for peace in their city. In front of the National Civil Rights Museum, people held hands in solidarity to talk about how they can work together to decrease the murder rate in Memphis. Known as Campaign Nonviolence, this group organized over 500 groups across the country in an effort to increase the peace, truly demonstrating the unity of a nonviolent campaign.
To become a trained nonviolence practitioner, please visit New Way’s website to learn more about our nonviolence and conflict reconciliation training program!
Contributed by Kylie, New Way Trainer and current law school student
We interviewed one of our prominent New Way trainers, Kylie! Here’s what she had to say about how Nonviolence has changed her life.
When were you first trained?
I first was trained by Bernard LaFayette Jr. at Emory University in 2012. I was a undergraduate student there as a senior and I found his class on Martin Luther King Jr. at the Theology school so I signed up. Little did I know that this class and my connection with Dr. LaFayette would change my life forever.
What peaked your interest in getting trained in the first place?
I loved learning about the Civil Rights Movement, and I was hoping to take as many African American studies courses as I could, so when I found Dr. LaFayette’s name on the course catalog I knew I had to take that class. He was known in Selma for his work with the high school students and SNCC in the 1960s and I was honored to be taught by him. Once I took the training, though, I realized it was so much deeper than just “not hitting back” or just not being violent. I started to see how violent I was, and how I had connected so much with the Movement because of its power and impact, but those tactics could have the same effect inside of me.
What is a significant memory you have of when you were first trained? [Read more…] about Spotlight New Way Trainer: Kylie