Serve Well Blog

2.28.17

Bridging divides, responding to fear

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Advocacy, Law

 


 

The impact of skills gained through service and honed in the Krista Foundation's service leadership program extends far beyond the service year.

Watching co-workers and citizens place their lives at risk to help advance the reform of Honduras's police force, often closely connected to gangs and drug trafficking organizations, helped Aaron Korthuis '13 understand why someone would flee a country and seek residency elsewhere. What he witnessed through his work with the Association for a More Just Society stoked his commitment to seeking justice for the oppressed-and sensitive to the demeaning ways in which refugees and asylum seekers can be treated when they try to enter the U.S.

So it's not surprising that in the hours following President Trump's January Executive Order to ban refugees from entering the country, Aaron, now attending Yale Law School, played a key role in the federal lawsuit challenging the order. To help file the motion on behalf of two Iraqi men with valid visas who were detained after arriving at JFK Airport shortly after the EO was signed, Aaron and half a dozen fellow students sat in a New Haven basement drafting court filings requesting a federal court to stop the removal of those affected by the order in anticipation of an emergency hearing.

"When we heard that the stay was granted and that it was nationwide, there was euphoria in the room," Aaron said. "No other way to put it."

Aaron knows that not everyone agrees with his action. Tools from the Krista Foundation, including the January 2015 Krista Foundation debriefing and transition retreat, have helped equip him to engage people who feel differently.

"In 2015, I really needed time to reflect on what I had learned from serving in Honduras," he says. "I had just gotten married and started law school, and I wanted to think about how I was going to continue incorporating the lessons of my time abroad as I moved forward. One of the most meaningful things about the debriefing that I have tried to make part of my life is listening to the stories of others, especially those who are different from me, and letting that inform my work."

Faith is where Aaron starts when he reaches across the political divide. "I always try to make clear that my faith is the reason why I spend my time working on behalf of immigrants and refugees," he says. "Especially with other people of faith, there is a common ground, a common language I can use to explain why I disagree with them and why I think our faith compels a different understanding of many issues dividing our country."

Faith is also the reason he continues on his path. "The center of the career part of my life is seeking to work on behalf of people who are victims of violence or who are subject to oppression and trying to flee their homeland or make it better, by assisting them or ensuring that they can seek safety."


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