Last month, Clearview hosted a boutique for 5 Burmese refugees who were high school seniors wanting to attend their Senior Prom. Many of our students, parents, and volunteers helped pitch in to put together a last minute event for these girls to choose their dress, shoes, and accessories. It was an amazing picture of the church rallying around their community as each girl left with a dress, shoes, and was prayed over by one of our students or parents. A huge thank you for all of those who made this happen— you made these girls feel loved, valued, and important. Check out the pictures of the girls at the boutique and some of their prom pictures as well as a thank you letter from World Relief.
I’ve included some pictures of prom evening that you can share with your church. I also wanted to write a little note to talk about how much this evening meant for our students because you guys played such an enormous role in it. “Normal” for refugee youth is much different from the normal that we all experience. Yes, there are things that are similar. They have to go to school every day. They worry about homework. They’re concerned with their friends, body image, pop culture, and fitting in. They like to laugh and have fun. But on top of all that, they have been uprooted from their homes and have to completely start over in a new place. For many of our students, their lives outside of school and our Journey program consists of taking care of their families, interpreting for their parents, and making sure bills get paid. Their lives are largely void of “normal” or fun high school experiences. These students work so hard. They are all on track to graduate (very quickly and in a language that is new to them). Two of them were even inducted last week into National Honor’s Society. If anyone in the world deserves a fun and normal experience that lets them just be kids for a night, it’s these students. And that started with you guys. For our girls, finding the right dress that wouldn’t make them stick out as different was a huge piece of anxiety. Not only did you provide lovely dresses and accessories, but you did it in a way that restored dignity for our students. They didn’t have to just take whatever hand-me-down dress was available through friends and family. They got to have the experience of trying on multiple dresses and letting their friends help them choose. Our students often refer to our program as “the Journey Family.” How cool that you guys invited their family to come and have a REAL shopping experience—a normal one. Whether your dress was selected or not, you were a part of that. You provided options that made this experience feel special. Our girls literally giggled the whole way home from your church. It makes my heart absolutely swell to see them so happy. And on prom night, they were proud! My favorite story about prom night is about one of our girls—our MOST insecure girl actually. She got all fixed up and put on her dress. We were standing in the basement of my house just talking and she turned and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. When she did, she froze and audibly gasped and then said, “Ohhhh! I am BEAUTIFUL!” I feel tears in my eyes just thinking about it. We have been telling this young girl for years that she is beautiful and valuable and a precious creation made in the image of Christ. But on prom night, she saw it herself. She outwardly saw the beautiful young lady that our God created and cares for. You were a part of that. Thank you for being the church. Thank you for caring about the little things in the lives of others. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for taking the sweet time to pray for our girls individually. The love that you demonstrated reached far into the hearts of our students and encouraged our staff in ways that you may never know and all I know how to say is—thank you.
Journey Refugee Youth Services
World Relief Nashville