Rohingya Reunions: Utah

Rohingya Reunions: Utah
The last time we saw each other was at a shelter in southern Thailand, December 2015.

It’s been two years since this incredible family came to America. And I only just found out now. The past two years I thought they were still at the shelter where I found them in Thailand…still waiting for the day to be resettled.

Yet the entire time, they’ve been right at my doorstep.

I missed out on two years of being part of their lives. I blamed myself for this. I should have made more effort to find them. I should have made a couple more phone calls, asked a few more questions, stepped up my Facebook stalking skills.

But I didn’t.

I found out they were here through a Facebook friend request from Amir, the eldest son of the family. Checking my friend requests on Facebook is a deep dark hole of sifting through 1,300+ friend requests from obsessive Burmese fans. I usually avoid this daunting task, but this day I felt like sifting through the friend requests. And sure enough, there was a selfie of Amir. I knew him several years back, before he hit puberty and completely grew up. 2+ feet taller and sporting an Americanized middle schooler hairstyle, he still had that same familiar smile I remember.

We started messaging back and forth and I eventually called him. He picked up the Facetime call and his whole family was crowded around the camera, waving frantically and smiling at me. “We’re in America!!! Utah! When can you come to our house?”

As I’m Facetiming them, I frantically look up flights to Salt Lake City. A flight leaving next week, $60 round trip. Sold.

“Teacher, when are you coming?”

“I’ll be there…Friday!”

And just like that, I hopped on a plane to see them.

This wasn’t my first Rohingya Reunion. I know it won’t be my last. It’s difficult to put into words just how beautiful the moments are when I’m reunited with my dear friends I knew back in Thailand. Their mysterious past intrigued me. Their unknown future inspired me. I wanted to be part of their life, wherever it would take them.

And here I am, finally coming back into their lives again. I keep saying it’s two years too late, but the moment they opened the door and embraced me, those thoughts disappeared. Whether it’s two years or twenty years that I missed, I know that they would still open the door and welcome me back into their lives. That’s what it’s like to be part of the Rohingya family — and that’s something that’s never going to change.

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