How Do I Understand?

How Do I Understand?


Reflections by Sarah Archer, Programs Intern


How do I, a young married woman who grew up in the Lower Mainland, understand the stories I hear from the New Hope residents?

I honestly cannot.

I have not experienced persecution, imprisonment, or a threat on my life. I do not have children and, therefore, do not understand the love of a parent that will sacrifice so much for their child’s quality of life. I am married, not divorced, and cannot fathom the heartbreak of not having a teammate in a new environment. I have only seen a handful of countries. I have only brushed shoulders with a few cultures. I am in the dark about understanding their backgrounds and ways of living.

However, as I step into relationships with the residents, I bring the humility of my lacking experience. I know I cannot fully grasp an understanding of their stories, their feelings, their hardships. Yet, joy overwhelms me as I sit and listen. The joy that flows out of an individual as they share about their home and their story is infectious. The joy I experience is not because of what they went through, but the reality that they get to share it. Their stories do not define them; they are not the source of their identity. Instead, these stories reveal their journey of strength and perseverance.

“Strength is easy for me,” one resident shared with me, “it is because of what I have been through that I do not care about much anymore. My son and I are safe. It is easy to be strong now, because I have been strong all along.”

I sit in awe as I engage with these residents. The smiles, laughter, and kind hearts that meet me make me feel like I am connecting with friends. Yet, hearing their stories and seeing their smiles, has me in awe of the strength of their characters.

How do I, a young woman who grew up in the Lower Mainland, position myself to learn from these strong new friends?

I honestly hope I do so regularly.


New Hope Community Services

New Hope Community Services Society began in 2004 with the purpose of assisting refugee claimants and resettled refugees. We do this through housing in conjunction with social, personal, spiritual, educational and vocational support.

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