Tales from the Refugee Center~2016

Today was my last day at the Refugee Center for 2016. Here are some of my favorite moments (names have been changed):

–Iraqi dude asks me if I had any eyeliner so he could fill in his beard. Is completely stunned when I tell him he can easily buy some from the dollar store.

–Being confused for months and months why the refugees keep calling you ‘teacher’ (even though I’m clearly NOT their teacher) just to find out they mean they respect you.

–One of the refugees hands me a pamphlet from Planned Parenthood with a picture of a pregnant woman on front. He has drawn a circle on pregnant woman’s stomach and written the word ‘like’ on it in crayon. He hands it to me, laughs hysterically then walks away without any explanation. I still have that pamphlet.

–Russian dude dramatically announces, “Without the jokes, I would DIE.”

–I ask same Russian dude how to say ‘sunshine’ in Russian. Replies, “I don’t know. We don’t have that in Russia.”

–Middle-aged Bosnian dude asks me something & when i reply ‘wasn’t me’, he looks me dead in the eye and asks me, “What are you, Shaggy?” (Please refer to Shaggy’s ‘Wasn’t Me’ song if you don’t get the reference)

–When me and different middle-aged Bosnian dude bonded over our love of Borat. Calls me Azamat now whenever I see him.

–Accidentally offered a Muslim woman some pepperoni slices. She smiles at me and says “It is forbidden” before popping 3 of them into her mouth.

–Refugee: “So, what other languages do you speak?” Me: “….Uh, slang?”

–Me: “Yo i think (Bosnian Dude) thinks I’m dumb. He just came up to me and asked me to point to Italy on a map.” Coworker: “Well, Meag, in his defense when I came out here I saw you playing with a pink balloon.” Me: “IT’S CALLED WHIMSY.”

–Bosnian lady: “Why do you call it macaroni salad? There’s nothing green in it.” Me: *face turns into ‘hit the blunt’ meme*

–Spanish speaking refugee finds out I can speak limited amount of Spanish. Goes to friend, grabs her by the elbow, points to me and says in Spanish, “She can understand us.”

–I’m looking for one Bosnian dude. Goes to his employer and jokingly asks, “Where’s your best friend?” BD: “HE’S NOT MY BEST FRIEND.” (later I’m talking to BD#2) “So, where’s your best friend?” (BD#2 points to BD#1’S office) BD#1: “YOU ARE NOT MY BEST FRIEND”

–Day after Trump was elected, I’m at work crying my eyes out and Russian guy is trying to comfort me: “It’s okay. It’s okay. I survived Stalin. Trump is nothing.”

–When the refugees came out and sang us Christmas Carols and my fucking heart exploded like movie Voldemort

–Bosnian dude and I bonding over hand deformities. BD reveals gun wound: “I got this from the war” Me reveals crooked finger: “I got this from playing keep-away.” BD: “Nice.”

–Me and Bosnian dude getting into argument about how there’s no way I can get AIDS from a vacuum.

–Me: “(Karen guy), I like your shirt.” Karen guy explains to me how he got this shirt going back to Burma to see his dying father whom he only met once and how he journeyed back home for the first time in years just to speak to him on his deathbed and how literally three hours after he sees him, his father dies. Me: “Wow KG that’s amazing.” KG: “Yeah…It’s alright.”

–One of my favorite refugees always gives me a round of applause whenever she hears me using Arabic (all i know is thank you and peace be with you)

–Karen Guy#2 tells me how he lived in a refugee camp and how he had to eat cobras and shit to survive. Karen Guy: “Wanna know how to eat a snake?” Me: “How?” KG: “You go behind them, catch them by and tail and (swings arm) WHAM WHAM WHAM. Against the rock.” Me: “KG, you’re so hardcore.” KG: “(laughs) Yeah…”

–Trying to tell Russian Dude at work a joke: “Hey RD, what do you call cheese that someone has stolen from me?” RD: “Give-it-back-cheese?” Me: “No, nacho cheese.” RD: “….Give-it-back-cheese is better.”

–When some Syrian girls your own age are bored waiting for Immigration Lady so they silently come over and start braiding your hair

–When one of my favorite refugee children comes up to me, randomly hugs me and says, “She’s my friend.” And every previous good feeling you’ve ever had doesn’t compare to that exact moment.

–Bosnian lady: ( to me) “You struggle to say ‘good morning’ and ‘chair’ but I teach you how to say ‘shitty’ and suddenly you’re fluent. What the fuck, girl?”