IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

Speech by Nour Al Zouabi, Run for Refugees 2024

It is my honor to stand before you today at an event that holds a special place in my heart. IRIS’s Run for Refugees and All Immigrants has become a cherished tradition for my family since we arrived in the United States in 2016.

For my family, this event goes beyond the miles we cover, it symbolizes new beginnings, resilience, and the unity that emerges from the diverse communities that gather here on this day. 

Every year, my family takes more time on this day to reflect on our own journey. Similar to every story, our journey was also unique, started in Syria and found home again in CT. 

In May 2023, I had to deeply reflect on that journey again, not at home celebrating my graduation with my family but at the Southern Border in El Paso, Texas. Within 48 hours of delivering my commencement speech, I found myself thrown into a world crisis, witnessing immigrants’ challenges on their journey to find home. I didn’t only listen to stories, welcome and connect with our new neighbors, but also saw the humanity we share. 

At such a critical time in history, where conflicts continue to destroy lives and displace many more, climate change endangers our environment and people worldwide are suffering, our collective and individual humanity are being tested. 

Our kindness and solidarity with our surroundings and the global community are being questioned. At these moments, the Run for Refugees and All Immigrants has now become more critical than ever before. So, I ask you today, as you run, walk or simply move forward, covering the miles to the finishing line, to remember those who have yet to find safety or arrive at the finishing line of their journey. 

We are also witnessing various events where human rights and international humanitarian laws are being violated. Today, we are in a race to stop these violations. It is our responsibility to hold each other accountable for choosing silence and being involved in these violations.

So, even as you move beyond this event today, please stay informed and educated, connected to our local and global communities, and be kind, it is a universal language that crosses barriers and borders. 

February 11th, 2024,  New Haven, CT

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