Starting again: Iowa brings promise and safety to hundreds of refugees

A photo of Rahila Amany, an Afghan refugee from Kabul, and her family. She has four grandchildren who attend PV and a scholarship for her loving nature.

Pleasant Valley Schools

A photo of Rahila Amany, an Afghan refugee from Kabul, and her family. She has four grandchildren who attend PV and a scholarship for her loving nature.

Alex Hunter, Copy Editor

As a result of a ruthless Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden’s recent proposal has resulted in a plan for 37,000 Afghan refugees to enter the United States in the coming weeks; 700 of them will resettle in Iowa.

The situation with the Taliban terrorist group in Afghanistan has been rather difficult to judge for US officials. Biden pumped nearly $80 million into the training and supplementation of resources for the Afghan military force, but ultimately, these efforts equated to nothing. On Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban officially took over the war-torn country of Afghanistan. 

With distraught Afghans fleeing the country, Iowa will see an influx of refugees in the state’s major populated cities such as the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids metropolitan areas. Kerri True-Funk, Des Moines Field Office Director in the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants explained how Iowa has made accommodations towards housing and jobs for refugees possible in an article “The community has been very supportive in a lot of different ways,” she said. “The donation drives have been excellent.” 

With various donation and preparation efforts, Iowans have done what they can to support the struggling refugees. 

Historically, Iowa has been a very welcoming place for refugees to reside. According to an article regarding 20th-century immigration in Iowa “Over the next two decades, Iowa became home to refugees from Congo, Syria, and the Dominican Republic.  Bosnians were classified as true refugees by the U.S. government and given permission to resettle here, having been driven from their homes in the face of threatened genocides,” it notes. 

The unexpected move from one’s home country to another can be overwhelming and extremely stressful. The hardships these people have already endured go beyond what many will face in their lives; on top of this, the refugees are expected to settle in a country they know little to nothing about. 

America, like all countries, has its challenges. Asking foreigners to learn a new language and obtain a good enough job to support themselves and their families is a daunting challenge. For many of these people, though, it is their only opportunity to have a safe life.  

Junior Kushi Maridu is an immigrant from Hyderabad, India. He described his transition from out of India, into America. “Iowa has been pretty nice. When I first moved to America, it was hard to get used to the different cultures. All of my family had a different accent and it was hard to communicate with others. People at school helped me get used to the different ethnic norms,” he said. 

Mindfulness is a virtue that has grown in recent years due to the increase in cultural diversity in America. 

The increase in refugees in Iowa will lead to a more diverse student enrollment platform. The Pleasant Valley School District has offered all students access to equal opportunity and education for years. The district website exemplifies one of PV’s many values in its mission and vision statement. “Our goal is to have the finest academic and extra-curricular programs in the state. Not in some things but in all things. Not for some kids but for all kids,” it says. 

Students at PV also enjoy a school flooded with many different groups of students. Spartan senior Sydney Brandmeyer described her view on student diversity. “I think the number of immigrants and refugees has increased a lot here over the years. We have been able to have a sense of community within PV and the state of Iowa since,” she explained.

With the proposal for approximately 37,000 Afghan refugees entering the United States very soon, Iowans should prepare to welcome this vulnerable population, as they have for decades in the past.