The Summit began with a plenary session and panel discussion that included Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and City Councilman Awet Eyasu, 11Alive News reporter Neima Abdulahi, and CDC researcher Martin Cetron.
Cetron, an expert in international migration, explained the current status of migration to the U.S. and other parts of the world and the role that the CDC plays in ensuring that all refugees who resettle in the U.S. are healthy. He explained that the U.S. receives a small proportion of refugees relative to other countries. In his remarks, Mayor Terry suggested that Clarkston is a future glimpse of America given its diversity and the strength that this diversity brings to the community.
Councilman Eyasu and Abdulahi both came to the U.S. as refugees and provided their perspectives on arriving in the U.S. and learning to live in a new culture. Eyasu described his journey from refugee to Clarkston City Councilman and that Clarkston’s motto, “Where Possibilities Grow,” is emblematic of the life he has been able to lead.
Abdulahi, who was born in Somalia and resettled in Decatur, Ga. as an elementary school student knowing no English, described how her family would spend weekends in Clarkston because it felt comfortable and a little bit like home. During her remarks, she also indicated that the biggest challenge for her was learning what resources were available and finding mentors to guide and push her.