A Los Angeles woman invites an Afghan refugee family to Thanksgiving. Here’s What Happened During Their First Thanksgiving Meal

Asghary, a former translator and interpreter for the US Army in Afghanistan, came to the US on a special immigrant visa in September 2020. He brought with him his four children, who were already trying. Learn English while enrolled in a completely virtual school at time. His wife joined them five months later.

Thursday was the first time they were invited to a Thanksgiving meal by an American family.

“Every country, every country, every people, everyone has a culture or tradition, right? So this was our first time, and now we want to learn a little bit. about really what this is,” Asghary said.

Their host, Kiki Nagy, volunteers for List of Miry, a Southern California-based group that helps refugee families settle in the US In August, during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Miry’s List enrolled more than 20 refugee families, about five times the number of families. compared with the previous month. Next year, the organization is working to prepare to help more than 300 families settle in Southern California.

Nagy asked the founder of the organization, Miry Whitehill, if she could host an Afghan family for their first Thanksgiving. She is connected to the Asgharys, whom she has never met until the holidays.

Nagy makes a large turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes and spinach. But she also prepares a halal lamb to ensure that the Asghary family can have something familiar to eat. Asghary said his daughter, in particular, enjoys all the food.

Nagy was eager to not only introduce them to Thanksgiving dishes, but also demonstrate their Thanksgiving tradition.

“From the right and from the left, people are like, ‘America has a lot of problems – x, y, z,'” Nagy said. “In the midst of this moment of cultural conflict, the story of the division that we have, we heard a lot, that there’s something so essential to the American experience that’s rooted in gratitude, rooted in volunteering, that you leave your country, you leave. a situation and you come here with sometimes very little – sometimes nothing. And you start over. And you create this opportunity for your family. “

Wahidullah Asghary.

Asghary said they have a lot to be grateful for: “We could have more opportunities in life in our hands. So of course the most important example is this, that we are together. “

He said they were lucky his wife was able to join them before many others tried to exit in a chaotic way in August during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The image of many families trying to escape Afghanistan in August especially resonated with another guest at the Thanksgiving party, Tam Van Tran.

Tran, a friend of Nagy’s, was a refugee from Vietnam in 1975. Tran told CNN that he and his siblings arrived in America a week before the fall of Saigon.

“When I saw the picture of the Afghans and the cargo plane, it reminded me a lot – I was in the same, but it was a huge cargo ship,” Tran said.

Asghary's family enjoys their first Thanksgiving meal.

When Tran arrived in California, he was about the same age as Asghary’s oldest children. He said he and his siblings had initially escaped without their parents, so they were welcome at the home of Richard and Rejean Schulte, a foster family in Mountain View, California.

He said he could give Asgharys a warm welcome: “Brotherhood and camaraderie. In a sense, you know… I went through that experience in ’75. “.

As at many holiday gatherings around the country, some people at the dinner table at one point were new to the country and had to learn American traditions. And many of them have worked to seize the opportunities presented to them in their new homeland.

Asghary said he told his children, “We’re here for you, America is here for you, and everything you have in your hand. What you’re going to do, you have to learn. That’s it.”

Nagy hopes one of their first lessons will be from their first Thanksgiving: “To see that tolerance is actually possible in the United States and, um, I guess I want them to feel that way. see, I would appreciate, that the American is at heart, truly a generous person.”


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