By Brad Alexander (JD '10),
Staring into the eyes of an Afghan asylum seeker really put me in my place. As I sat there, with him, in a Bulgarian detention center, I realized how any of my struggles in life were much less significant that those plaguing him every day. He was less than twenty years old, and his application for refugee status in Bulgaria had been rejected. He's been there ever since, stuck behind the same walls, for nearly three years of his young life. The government keeps him in a constant state of limbo – threatening deportation but keeping him locked up, with no end or indication of change in sight. For someone who was never formally educated, he knows five languages and was eager to converse in English with me. He spoke of his home quietly, yet without fear. He spoke of his long, difficult journey to flee violence and illegally enter Europe. He spoke hopefully of the future, and his goal to one day enroll in a university. Above all, what left the biggest impression on me was his readiness to smile. He may have only been a teenager, but his ability to face every day with a positive outlook exposed a courage and maturity well beyond his years.