Kate Stricklan, Volunteer
“I have been working with refugees in two different countries for approximately 20 months. I worked as a legal intern at an NGO in Cairo and while I was in Norway, I interned in ICORN, an organization that offers two years of safe haven in cities throughout Europe for persecuted writers.
Through my work as a legal advocate for refugees, I have been entrusted with life stories so harrowing it was hard to fight back tears as I wrote down their testimony. Time and time again, I learned of parents protecting their children to the death, offering themselves up so that their sons and daughters might escape the terrorist’s grasp. I met a woman who told me matter-of-factly that she had traveled from Somalia to Egypt on foot. An elderly woman spoke quietly about having to sleep on different people’s balconies each night for over a year since she had no money to rent a room of her own. I was impressed consistently with the inner core of strength that each refugee seemed to draw upon, even in light of their horrific past and the challenging and uncertain present.
I will never forget Mansur, a Yemeni poet who found asylum in Norway after being imprisoned in his home country for 13 years. He was jailed shortly after getting married and was not reunited with his wife again for over a decade. Despite having lived in Scandinavia since the late 1990s, he is still deeply passionate about the state of his country and he writes shatteringly beautiful poems about being pulled between two cultures. When he found out I had just arrived into the office from Egypt, he made it his mission to try to keep up my Arabic, teaching me the ‘proper’ (i.e., non-dialect) ways to say certain words and phrases. He is such a kind, quiet, astute man, quick to smile, but with equal amounts of sadness and dignity draped over him at all times. He is a true inspiration about the power of words and perseverance.”
Name: Kate Stricklan, Volunteer