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Home. It takes only four letters to write the word, but for some, it takes a lifetime to find its meaning. The word has caused me, as a former refugee, much pain, confusion, and uncertainty. When I finally found its meaning, I found peace. Home for me was Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bloody aggression and genocide inflicted upon Bosnia in the 1990s forced me and my family to run to save our lives. America opened its doors and welcomed us to its shores. With resilience, ambition, strength within ourselves and support from LIRS’s help, we got back on our feet.
My fellow migrants: just as my family did, you will encounter obstacles and people who will not accept you. You will be judged by the community, as well as by people who come from the same place as you. This is inescapable. You must remember one thing: you are in America now, where the only person who can stand in your way is you. Other roadblocks and people can stop you only if you let them. That is the beauty of this country. You have the freedom to shape your own life and build your own future.
We come from a place where other people got to write our books of life and dictate our faith. America is giving you a chance to start over, a chance to write your own book of life. I am still writing mine; it includes all my mistakes, all my regrets, all my successes; and all of my happiness; but the most important part is that it’s MINE. From this day forward, start writing the chapters of your book of life. And it is my hope for you that one day soon, you will no longer feel like a refugee, but a person who can smile and say, “I am home.”