4 New Years Resolutions Inspired by Brave Immigrants

Working with asylum seekers is an honor. Where else would I get to meet modern day heroes who risked their lives for justice? I volunteer regularly with First Friends, an organization that promotes “compassion and hope through volunteer visitation, resettlement assistance and advocacy.”  I meet with asylum seekers while they are held in detention and maintain a friendship with them after they are released.

My New Year’s resolutions were inspired by four men who were granted asylum and are now rebuilding their lives in the United States. Here are four phrases I resolve to say more in 2020.

I Can

I learned from Sylvian,  a young fashion designer that anything is possible, Read Sylvian’s back-story, going from being on the run after exposing police corruption in his native Belize to working on his forth fashion show collection in New York City, with out any formal fashion training.

My dream is to spend my 60’s and 70’s traveling around the world collecting and telling people’s stories. Channeling Sylvian, I know I can do anything I put my heart and soul into.  

I Have Faith

Meeting Abu taught me the power of faith in the midst of difficult circumstances. All throughout his detention and during the initial post-detention struggles, Abu kept the faith that things would work out—and they did. He moved clear across the country and started a new life in Iowa.

As an independent consultant, I regularly freak out when I look to the months ahead and am not sure if I will have enough paying work. But Abu has taught me to take a breadth and remember, things will work out if you trust in God and  keep moving ahead.

I Have Enough

Taiwo’s detailed appreciation of the Christmas card I sent to him while in detention made me feel sheepish about the perfunctory way I treat the cards I receive. This year, I saved them all up, poured a glass of wine and took the time to appreciate all my friends who sent me snippets of their lives. In 2020, I resolve to work even harder at savoring the beautiful things that come my way instead of getting caught up in the daily grind of going and getting. 

I Have Time

Edafe taught me that there is always a way to help others, no matter how busy you are. Edafe is a creative whirlwind who has written a book, Bed 26, turned the book into a play and hosts a regular podcast, The Pont. And now he is even looking into graduate school. Still, he finds time to visit people in detention.


So, when First Friends calls me to host someone being released from detention, I plan to say “yes, I have time,” as much as I can. I have been richly rewarded over the years every time I have, with holiday dinner tables full of laughter, new insights about the world and myself and experiences I never would have never for myself. 

I am looking forward to 2020!


  1. Betty Tipton

    I want t to introduce you to my friend, Judy, who has also coached refugees through their asylum seeking. She has published a book of poetry inspired by that. It’s called “Second Tongue “. You’ll like it.

    1. dorothywetzel165@gmail.com

      Looking forward to meeting her! Lisa has all of my contact info.

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