5 Good Reasons To Host An Asylee In Your Home

With the holidays coming fast and furious, the Modern-Day Church Lady offers 5 reasons to host asylees (people who have been granted asylum) in your home, for the holidays or any other time!

After visiting a person held in immigration detention for months, picking them up after a successful asylum hearing is a true joy. Hosting the asylee in your home compounds that delight. I’ve hosted 6 different asylees for the first few days after their hearing and look forward to hosting more.

There are obvious humanitarian reasons to host an asylee. But as a professional marketer, I’m trained to think about the benefits—both emotional and rational—of any volunteer action. On the personal level, this is known as the WIFM principle, “What’s in it for Me?”

So, here’s what is in it for you to host someone in your home.  

  1. Asserting your American and/or religious values-Most Americans are horrified to learn that people seeking asylum are shackled at the airport, given a prison jumpsuit and thrown into detention centers or jails for 6 months or more. Hosting an asylee gives you the opportunity to perform a small personal act of reconciliation-kind of a do over on the part of America. You get to welcome someone to our country the right way, with open arms.
Our extended family at Thanksgiving
  1. Expanding your culinary horizons. When I host someone, I generally make a dish from their home country. As an avid home cook, I am always looking for new things to try and meeting people from around the world has been a great way to expand my repertoire. Guatemalan Chicken Pepian, Nigerian Jollof rice and Ethiopian Injera bread are now in regular rotation at my dining room table. Things don’t always turn out right, but the asylees are appreciative that you tried.
Chicken Pepian, the dish I served to a young woman who was staying with us from Guatemala
  1. Obtaining a cross-cultural education from a different perspective. I love meeting local people on my travels and seeing how they live. Hosting an asylee like travel in reverse. It holds up a mirror to our American lifestyle and values. Sometimes that mirror reveals the peculiar side of things we take for granted. For example, our American way of anthropomorphizing the animals we live with. I am doubtful Pet sliders exist in any other culture! This uniquely American tendency led to some fun exchanges about cat-dogs when hosting two Ethiopian friends.
Somehow pet sliders don't seem unusual in our pet-centric american culture
  1. Witnessing inspiring gratitude. The gratitude of an asylee is infectious. They lift their faces to the sun and quietly smile. The cup of fresh brewed coffee is savored, not tossed back for a quick caffeine hit. An asylee’s gratitude is infectious and you will find yourself feeling grateful for all the things you regularly overlook.
Asylees can teach you the meaning of gratitude
  1. Making a friend for life. I have stayed in touch with most of the asylees I have hosted and invite them over for holidays. They fill out the steadily emptying dinner table as the circle of life inevitably turns. I dreaded the first holiday season after my mother died. But with my asylee friends, instead of a mopey Christmas dinner, I got a joyous celebration full of people from around the world.
My daughter and an Asylee from Zanzibar at Christmas

When you get the chance, host an asylee!  Yes, when I am sitting in my car waiting for my formerly detained friend to emerge from the detention facility, I have some second thoughts.  I think, what do I really know about this person? But remember, you have probably spent more quality time talking to the asylee than most people in your life. Asylees have been more than thoroughly vetted by the US government and also most likely by a non-profit organization like American Friends Service Committee that provides legal services to asylum seekers.

As a marketer, I invoke one of the most famous advertising slogans when it comes to encouraging you to host an asylee in your home: