Not Just a Number: The Real Face of Refugees in the United States


Refugees in the United States A World-Renowned Opera Singer, an International Journalist, and a United States Government Civil Servant. What do they all have in common? They are not just a number. 

Not Just a Number is an ongoing video project documenting the real lives of refugees living in the United States.

After researching and covering the escalation of the Syrian crisis and the numerous summits surrounding humanitarian issues this year, Sarah Houston of Turkish Heritage Organization (THO)  felt that examining the refugee crisis on an individual level may bring a much needed and often overlooked perspective, adding to the depth and breadth of the conversation surrounding asylum seekers and immigration.

When you take the time to sit down and talk with someone about their life, it is much harder to put them in a box. So, THO did just that: they sat down with refugees and listened. The interviews already conducted show how refugees can take a devastating situation and turn it into a something beautiful, making a lasting impact on the United States.

When you take the time to sit down and talk with someone about their life, it is much harder to put them in a box.

This project has turned into a larger initiative, with interviews from european asylum seekers, scholars, Syrian university students. Their hope is that as we interview more refugees, it inspires other to seek out and talk to displaced people in their communities.


THO's commentary regarding the video above is as follows, "THO wanted to challenge the perspective that many Americans have as they watch news clips and read headlines surrounding Syria, views that tend to place refugees in one of two categories: helpless victims without a place to go or threats who take locals jobs and present a national security risk.

We wanted to highlight the triumphs and incredible stories of refugees here in the Washington, D.C. area who go above and beyond in order to confront this problematic stereotyping.

THO sat down with Elvir Klempic to hear about his journey from Bosnia at a young age and how he became a dedicated civil servant at only 24 years old. Each week, we will release a new interview in the hopes that Americans, Turks, and people all over will do the same. These people are not just a number."

For more information on the video project, please click here or comment below with any questions you might have for Ms. Sarah Houston. Also, be sure to follow Ms. Houston on Middle East Collective to see more of her work.


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