My name is Freya, and I recently attended an eye-opening event called Global Vision. I was nervous for an event of this caliber where I would be away from the comfort of home for six days doing new things and exploring a brand new city. I knew I would be pushing my limits while on this trip, however, I felt as though this is something I was being called to partake in.
Some thoughts I was having in my anticipation for Global Vision were: Was I going to fit in? What was I going to be exposed to? Was I going to be comfortable doing something new like this? After all, I had only been to Pilgrimage and ACS before Global Vision, and I didn’t know what to expect.
I now have a more educated opinion on the process of naturalization that immigrants and refugees have to go through to be citizens of this country and the pull factors of them coming because of what I learned and experienced while on Global Vision. I have also found a stronger admiration for the experiences my family has had over the years. One thing that was stressed heavily on us during the seminars is that becoming a citizen of the United States is not an easy, fast, or simple process. My dad was born in Sweden and moved to the United States 24 years ago. During a seminar on the pushes and pulls of migration, we were given a graphic organizer that showed us how difficult the naturalization process truly is and knowing that my dad went through that for my family is almost unfathomable.
Immigrants and refugees sacrifice so much to become citizens of a new country. My dad left behind his family and friends and everything he knew to have better opportunities and even got stuck back in Sweden while he was trying to get all of his paperwork filed and processed. I have been back to Sweden and seen where he grew up and attended elementary school in his same hometown two times and being able to have those experiences has enriched my life in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. Being a dual citizen and having this background has added amazing aspects to my life but that doesn’t mean that the good things didn’t come from hardships. Leaving behind everything you know is hard. Learning English or any other language is hard. Becoming a citizen is hard. Before Global Vision, I had never had a real, in-depth conversation with my family about my dad’s citizenship process but since the trip, we’ve been able to openly talk about the hardships and experiences we had as a family.
An immigrant’s experience from a country like Sweden is different than one escaping famine, violence, poverty, or other factors crossing our southern border. Now that I’ve been more educated on immigration of more than just people in my personal life, I have found a new appreciation for everyone’s individual story and an understanding that immigrants will cross our southern border knowing that it won’t be a walk in the park, but they persevere anyways because of the opportunities they can obtain here. Being born in America into a loving family with our ways of cultural expression and having the opportunities found in being a dual-citizen is a privilege that I didn’t necessarily recognize before my attendance on Global Vision. I have also come to the realization that not everyone who has one or more immigrant parents has the liberty of saying where their parents are from or how they got to the United States. I tell my family’s story with pride because it has made me the woman I am today. In other cases, that same situation can open families up to extreme vulnerability and danger that I wasn’t aware of before our seminars at the Board of Church and Society.
On the first day of our trip, we attended congressional hearings on child separation at the border and DACA in accordance with the Dream Act. I was not expecting to go to a congressional hearing on this trip, but I was especially excited to tell my mom that I had that opportunity. My mom used to work in Congress in the same building where we saw these congressional hearings so being able to walk those same halls that she did was a really moving experience. Hearing her excitement for me when I told her about going to the congressional hearings is something I will never forget, and it showed me how amazing this trip truly is. Now my mom and I talk about
Before going on this trip, I was feeling many emotions and was almost regretting my decision because I didn’t feel like I was ready to take this leap of faith and push myself this much. Frankly, the week of Global Vision was kind of difficult for me. Life gets tough, but luckily I decided to follow through and go on the trip. I felt God there with me so that I could have the endurance to make it through the week; and since going on Global Vision, I have been the happiest, most politically and socially aware version of myself that I’ve been in a long time. Being with a close-knit group of people on Global Vision changed my friendships and made an enormous impact on so many aspects of my life, and I highly encourage you to consider taking part in this amazing, eye-opening, and impactful experience next year.
To learn more, visit our Global Vision page.