The following is a reflection of Shawna Williams, a participant in World Relief’s cross-state bike tour SEA-TRI-KAN.
When I was first asked to be a part of SEA-TRI-KAN, my initial thoughts were as follows:
- My first bike tour: !!!
- A week off of work: YES!
- I can eat whatever I want: YUM!
- I can help people get jobs and gain their footing in a new country: YAY!
I’m not particularly proud that this was the order of my response, but there you have it. A couple months later, I was attending a benefit breakfast for the Youth Tutoring Program where I tutor 3 awesome kids on the finer points of reading and bad puns. The keynote speaker, a Somali refugee, registered nurse, medical translator and mother of 4 absolutely floored me. She spoke of her struggles integrating into a new country with a different language, strange rules and unfamiliar customs. She told a story of determination, hope and creating a life that is full of possibility. She noted that all of us in some way are seeking refuge. I was captivated.
As I pedaled my way to work later that morning, it was clear to me that biking is my refuge. I haven’t experienced the same challenges that the many thousands of refugees in this country face on a daily basis. I can’t imagine the feeling of being separated from loved ones, trying to find a job and struggling to re-create a life in a completely new context. These trials are beyond me, yet on some level of the human experience I can relate to that desire to have a refuge; I feel it when I bike.
This summer, I will ride SEA-TRI-KAN. I have been promised copious amounts of donuts, milkshakes, time off and miles in the saddle. These things excite me. More importantly, I will get the opportunity to use my bike as a way of creating a refuge for someone else, be that a job, education, or an apartment. I can’t think of a more wonderful ride.
See you on the road!
Shawna and a handful of other local cyclists are going to be riding 400 miles across the state of Washington this June to raise support for local refugee families as they seek employment and self-sufficiency in their new home. You can join the team by supporting a rider here!