Amy Kannel

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Helen Thorpe
“I would even say that spending a year in Room 142 had allowed me to witness something as close to holy as I’ve seen take place between human beings. I could only wish that in time, more people would be able to look past their fear of the stranger and experience the wonder of getting to know people from other parts of the globe. For as far as I could tell, the world was not going to stop producing refugees. The plain, irreducible fact of good people being made nomad by the millions through all the kinds of horror this world could produce seemed likely to prove the central moral challenge of our times. How did we want to meet that challenge? We could fill our hearts with fear or with hope. And the choice would affect more than just our own dispositions, for in choosing which seeds to sow, we would dictate the type of harvest. Surely the only harvest worth cultivating was the one Mr. Williams had been seeking: greater fluency, better understanding.”
Helen Thorpe, The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

“Perhaps this is why an institution is unlikely to feel or admit to shame; it may be unable to countenance the possibility that at root it is not what it purports, even to itself, to be. (quoted by Michael Barnett in Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda)”
Elizabeth Spellman

Helen Thorpe
“Meeting people whose life trajectories were so different from my own enlarged my way of thinking. Outside the school, arguments over refugees were raging, but the time I had spent inside the building showed me that those conversations were based on phantasms. People were debating their own fears. What I had witnessed taking place inside this school every day revealed the rhetoric for what it was: more propaganda than fact. Donald Trump appeared to believe his own assertions, but I hoped that in the years to come, more people would be able to recognize refugees for who they really were--simply the most vulnerable people on earth.”
Helen Thorpe, The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

“I longed for a foolproof recipe of how to do faith well, and God placed me in a world where no recipe would do. He made it my job to know Him, not just know about Him. Behind the scenes of this ministry He was growing, the only viable option was to chase after Him with all my might, holding out His Word to women as I ran. Then wake up the next day and do it again. It became my job to trust. It became my job to believe. It became my job--and it still is--to marvel at the depth and breadth of His goodness, to see up close the way He has provided, and to praise Him as He continues to provide.”
Amanda Bible Williams, She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away

Helen Thorpe
“Meeting people whose life trajectories were so different from my own enlarged my way of thinking. Outside the school, arguments over refugees were raging, but the time I had spent inside this building showed me that those conversations were based on phantasms. People were debating their own fears. What I had witnessed taking place inside this school every day revealed the rhetoric for what it was: more propaganda than fact. Donald Trump appeared to believe his own assertions, but I hoped that in the years to come, more people would be able to recognize refugees for who they really were: simply the most vulnerable people on earth.

Inside this school, where the reality of refugee resettlement was enacted every day, it was plain to see that seeking a new home took tremendous courage. And receiving those who had been displaced involved tremendous generosity. That’s what refugee resettlement was, I decided. Acts of courage met by acts of generosity. Despite how fear-based the national conversation had turned, there was nothing scary about what was happening at South. Getting to know the newcomer students had deepened my own life, and watching Mr. Williams work with all twenty-two of them at once with so much grace, dexterity, sensitivity, and affection had provided me with daily inspiration. I would even say that spending a year in room 142 had allowed me to witness something as close to holy as I’ve seen take place between human beings. I could only wish that in time, more people would be able to look past their fear of the stranger and experience the wonder of getting to know people from other parts of the globe.

For as far as I could tell, the world was not going to stop producing refugees. The plain, irreducible fact of good people being made nomad by the millions through all the kinds of horror this world could produce seemed likely to prove the central moral challenge of our times. How did we want to meet that challenge? We could fill our hearts with fear or with hope. And the choice would affect more than just our own dispositions, for in choosing which seeds to sow, we would dictate the type of harvest. Surely the only harvest worth cultivating was the one Mr. Williams had been seeking: greater fluency, better understanding.”
Helen Thorpe, The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

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