Welcome to week 12 of these stories.
Thank you so much for telling them so that I can write them.
Thank you equally to the readers.
We sit across from her as she talks and we are impressed. She is so well-spoken and smart and funny and this seems like a lot for a girl only twenty-three.
"So," she says, "I am really excited to be part of this group."
"Well, we are really excited to have you," says our leader. "It seems like you can do a lot to help us make a difference in this community, maybe even beyond!"
"Oh I really hope so," says this girl who intrigues us all, who seems talented beyond her years. "I am honored to help in any way I can, especially as it relates to girls in the sciences. I can definitely do something there."
"I'll say so," says the woman next to me. "It's not every day you meet a female coder and software engineer, especially your age. I can hardly even turn on my laptop without help."
We all laugh and this young girl laughs too and then she looks down humbly before glancing at her friend who nudges her, gently pushes her arm.
"I think there's one more thing I'd like to say," she tells us.
We all look at this young new member of our group, a group we formed to bring help and healing and love to our community in a time when we aren't sure there is enough of it, when we aren't sure of much.
"Rachel told me this is a safe place, but I had to know for myself. I see that it is so I want to share this."
"I wasn't born here. I was born in Bosnia. I came here as an infant, as a Bosnian refugee."
Everyone is surprised. There is no accent. Her hair is dark and her skin is light and there seems nothing but age to distinguish her much from us.
What if it was like this for everyone? What if accents and skin color didn't indicate anything more than a story to tell?
After a moment someone says, "You must be even angrier than we are."
Quiet agreement floats around.
"No," she says. "I'm not angry, just sad. America gave me refuge when my home was being torn apart by war. I love this country. I owe it a great debt."
We are all quiet now, surprised again.
"I think you've paid it back," someone said.
The girl smiled.
What if it was like this for everyone? What if we all understood that we are refuge for each other and that rather than a country, the earth is our home.
And we owe it a great debt.