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When Afghanistan veteran, Ben, decided to host a refugee Supper Club in his South Orange neighborhood, he was determined to invite as many of his neighbors as possible.

Says Ben, “Citizenship starts in your own community.”

He set about inviting friends, neighbors and local community leaders. As word spread, Ben’s supper attendees rose to 50, including the town Mayor, leaving Ben asking neighbors to co-host and increase the event space.

“Having seen first-hand what displacement from conflict looks like, it was important to me that my family supported an organization that gives refugees dignity. We paid for a service – a delicious meal – and this equitable exchange is important in building full integration and vested citizenship amongst some of our newest neighbors,” says Ben.

In addition to the translator, Ben’s guests used Google Translate to facilitate communication, with conversation and cultural exploration flowing easily. Co-hosted by Ben’s Jewish neighbor, the event fell the week after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre and became a symbol of love at a time when hatred had once again come to the fore.

Ben affirms, “Refugees to the USA are as American as a boy from Kansas. They may not have the citizenship yet but in every other way they are the same as you or I. It’s incumbent on us all to share the American dream.”

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