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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

World Refugee Day: One USCIS Officer’s Reflections

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(Written by Diane Norman, USCIS Refugee Officer)

To say that it has been a pleasure to work as a Refugee Officer for two years would be an understatement. Since starting this job, I have worked in 10 countries on four continents, each beautiful in its own way. Traveling around the world was always my dream. So I can’t deny that when I started this job, I was most excited about the evenings and weekends I would have to explore my new surroundings.

I soon discovered, however, that it was the workdays, not the weekends, that would have the greater impact on my life.

USCIS refugee officers often struggle to get through interviews by day’s end, so I cherish the moments when I can put down my pen and have a real conversation with the person in front of me. I don’t want to ask any more mandatory questions or check off any more boxes. I want to know what their lives are like; what they do for fun and what their hopes for the future are.

After listening to the terrible things these people have endured in their home countries, it amazes me that they can still be full of compassion, love, and hope. I see how they light up when they talk about their children, their hobbies, or their dreams for the future.

I’m sure that refugees such as the Iraqi child who loves PlayStation, the Burmese girl who lost her parents, or the Iraqi Christian woman who couldn’t stop thanking me after the interview will do just fine in the U.S. I know my work has a great impact on their lives - and the impact they’ve had on my life will stick with me forever.

Endnote: For more information on World Refugee Day and USCIS' work with refugees, please see our website.