A woman from Los Angeles invited a family of Afghan refugees for Thanksgiving. Here’s what happened to their first Thanksgiving meal


Asghary, a former US Army translator and interpreter in Afghanistan, arrived in the US on a special immigrant visa in September 2020. He brought his four children, who tried to learn English while ‘they were enrolled in what was then a fully virtual school at the time. His wife joined them five months later.

Thursday was the first time they had been invited by an American family to experience a Thanksgiving meal.

“Every homeland, every nation, every people, every person, has a culture or a tradition, doesn’t it? So this is our first time, and now we want to know a little more about what it is , really, ”Asghary said.

Their host, Kiki Nagy, volunteered to Miry’s List, a Southern California-based group helping refugee families settle in the United States In August, during the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Miry’s List enrolled more than 20 refugee families, or about five times the number of families compared to the previous month. Next year, the organization is preparing to help more than 300 families settle in Southern California.

Nagy had asked the organization’s founder, Miry Whitehill, if she could host an Afghan family for their first Thanksgiving. She was related to the Asgharys, whom she had never met until the feast day.

Nagy made a big turkey with cranberry, potato and spinach sauce. But she also made a halal lamb to make sure the Asghary family could eat something familiar. Asghary said her daughter, in particular, liked all food.

Nagy was eager not only to introduce them to Thanksgiving dishes, but also to show them the tradition of giving thanks.

“From right to left, everyone is like, ‘America has problems – x, y, z,” Nagy said. “In the midst of this conflicting cultural moment, of this divisive story that we hear so much about, that there is something essential about the American experience that is rooted in gratitude, that is rooted in volunteering that you leave your country, you leave a situation and you come here with sometimes very little – sometimes with nothing. And you start over. And you create this opportunity for your family. “

Asghary said they have many reasons to be grateful: “We can have more opportunities in our life in our hands. So of course the most important example is this, that we are together. Family.”

He said they were lucky his wife was able to join them before so many others attempted a chaotic exit in August during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The image of the many families trying to flee Afghanistan in August particularly resonated with another guest at the same Thanksgiving feast, Tam Van Tran.

Tran, a friend of Nagy’s, was a refugee from Vietnam in 1975. Tran told CNN that he and his siblings arrived in the United States a week before the fall of Saigon.

“When I saw the photo of the Afghans and the cargo plane, it reminded me a lot – I was in the same thing, but it was a gigantic cargo ship,” Tran said.

Asghary's family is enjoying their first Thanksgiving meal.

When Tran arrived in California, he was about the same age as Asghary’s oldest children. He said he and his siblings first escaped without their parents. They were therefore welcomed into the home of Richard and Rejean Schulte, a foster family in Mountain View, California.

He said he could offer a warm welcome to the Asghary: “Brotherhood and fellowship. In a way, you know … I had this experience in ’75.”

As with many holiday gatherings across the country, several people at the table were at one point new to the country and had to learn American traditions. And many of them worked to seize the opportunity offered in their new home country.

Asghary said he told his children, “We are here for you, the United States is here for you, and all you have in your hand. What are you going to do is you have to study. That’s all. “

Nagy is hoping that one of their first lessons would be from their first Thanksgiving: “To see that kind of tolerance is really possible in America and, uh, I guess I would like them to feel, I would appreciate, that Americans are at heart, truly generous people. “


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