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By: Paedia Mixon  

About the Author


If you have come to this page looking for an older Thought Leadership piece, please scroll down to the archives.


Thoughts on Thankfulness

As I sat down to write about how thankful I am as we approach this season of Thanksgiving, I found myself feeling anxious instead. After 20 years of working with refugees – the most vulnerable and also the most resilient people I’ve ever met – I am worried.

I am scared for my country. I see the beginning of some worrying patterns and I fear that by throwing up walls and restricting all forms of immigration, we are losing the opportunity to learn from the experience of others. I worry that we are missing our chance to make the world a little better – and build a stronger, more resilient America in the process.

One of the most important lessons that refugees can teach us is the consequence of divisive policies and identity-based politics. Those of us who have worked with refugees for a long time have met survivors of ethnic, tribal, religious and political violence. We hear eerily similar stories of dehumanizing rhetoric, the slow erosion of individual rights and increasing tolerance for discrimination and violence. We see the complete futility of these kinds of policies. In the aftermath no one ever wins. The infrastructure and economies of countries are destroyed, the workforce is displaced, and the entire community is traumatized.

I am certainly a stronger person for knowing the many new Americans who have made Atlanta their home. I have learned resilience, resourcefulness and hope from people who have survived the worst the world has to offer.

I have tasted wonderful food, danced to great music and been inspired by gorgeous works of art from all over the world. I am constantly challenged by new ideas and new approaches by the incredible, diverse group of people I work with every day. I am forced to question my assumptions and examine my own identity and place in the world. I am a better person for it.

Welcoming refugees and immigrants is also good for our country. Immigrants can find safety and opportunity in our communities and, as a result, we enjoy the tangible benefits in the success they achieve. Immigrants bring new ideas and approaches. They start businesses and enrich our communities through art, music and culture. They challenge our ideas and make us regularly examine our identity. They make us a stronger community and a stronger country.

And for that, I am truly thankful.

Archived Thought Leadership Stories


September 2017: Undocumented and Unafraid: My Parents, My Heroes by Raymond Partolan

August 2017: Building PathDriver: My Path to Drive an Impact by Robin Deutsch Edwards

July 2017: Civic Engagement Regardless of Citizenship by Maria del Rosario Palacios

June 2017: Celebrating World Refugee Day by Rabbi Peter S. Berg

May 2017: Love>Fear: And It’s Good For Business by Bonnie Kallenberg

April 2017:Talking with Babies Makes Their Brains Smarter by Nitza Vega-Lahr, Ph.D.

March 2017: It’s All About Student Support by Terry Segovis

February 2017: Clarkston, Georgia: An Ever-Changing Town by Awet Eyasu

January 2017: Reclaiming Georgia’s Legacy of Love by Paedia Mixon

December 2016: Reflections on Welcoming Communities Trip to Germany by Alicia Phillip

November 2016: Thanksgiving in America by Bishop Robert Wright

October 2016: Voting: The Real American Dream by Elizabeth Poythress

August/September 2016: From the Road: das Willkommen by Paedia Mixon

July 2016: My Life In AmeriCorps by Lauren Mertens

June 2016: Reflecting On World Refugee Day

May 2016: A Gift for my Parents by Bee Nguyen

April 2016: The Ripple Effect by Breauna Hagen

March 2016: Lessons I’ve Learned Tutoring a Refugee by Ashley Hager

February 2016: For the Love of Humanity by Safia Jama

January 2016: 4D Service Learning at The Galloway School by Scotti Belfi

November and December 2015: A Case for Syrian Resettlement by Paedia Mixon

October 2015: Creating a Welcoming Atlanta Interview with Luisa Cardona

September 2015: Third-Annual Red, White and NEW Event Exceeds Fundraising and Advocacy Goals by Kelley Lugo

August 2015: Patti Garrett – August 2015 Food for Thought by Patti Garrett

July 2015: Engaging International Families in Parent Groups by Patti Ghezzi

June 2015: Reflecting on the Fourth of July by Kevin Abel

May 2015: Looking Back on Iraq by Whitney Kweskin

April 2015: All Hail Hall by Spencer Hall

March 2015: Honoring our Volunteers by Adriana Varela

February 2015: Celebrating New Americans by Charles Barnwell and Bob Glick

January 2015: What Refugees Leave Behind by Wendy Cheeks

December 2014: Welcoming Week in Atlanta by Emily Pelton

Georgia and Local Community


The Economic Benefits of Welcoming Refugees:

Refugee entrepreneurs are expanding prosperity for all Atlantans by opening new businesses that add to the tax base, employ local residents, and bring fresh ideas and products to our community.



Food for Thought

“Doing Business Like a Refugee” – For countries that embrace refugee business, what follows is often a boon to the economy, and an outlet for the refugees themselves. Via NPR Planet Money

“Where are refugees to the US coming from?” : via Washington Post

“U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Migrant Children” – This summer, religious leaders across the United States lead the cause of welcoming unaccompanied migrant children to their communities. via New York Times Link

“The Children of the Drug Wars: A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis” – The ongoing issues facing Central American countries, forcing thousands of unaccompanied children are complicated. Here is one view of the crisis. via New York Times Link

What Do You Think?

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