Hi! We have a refugee crisis, it’s bad but it’s better than you think. Meet your local, friendly refugee!!

Hi. Nice to meet you. I would like to tell you a story about refugees and persecuted people that it’s fun and hopefully makes your day.

As we watch the news in horror, tens of thousands of refugee’s are dying crossing the the Mediterranean sea, walking through Greece into Macedonia and Hungary trying to get into France, England, Nordic countries. Anywhere where they can feel safe.

They need help, but they are not victims.

They are strong, resilient people who have taken their destiny onto their hands. They have chosen life over death. Peace over war.  Freedom over tyranny. They might make excellent neighbors once you get to know them. The block parties and bbq’s are going to be tasty.

At this point, they need help. They’ll be fine, once we help.

You may wonder, how  am I so sure?

Well, I’m a refugee.

I came with my family in 1976 under a refugee visa.  My dad spent three years in concentration camps. One day, I’m at school and my mother comes in and says, we are leaving. We met our dad at the airport, took a plane to San Francisco and here we were. Never to return where I grew up.

That visa is pretty legit. You are stamped REFUGEE and you have one year to get the necessary “green card” for residence. (Another story for another time).

I apologize if the suffering is not enough. Branniff airplanes were nice –first time on a plane. But being exiled from your country and family is a universal quality all refugees share. In taxis, hotels, airports, hospitals, restaurants.. we know each other. In a few words. We know each other. Uber drivers rate us five stars. We help each other.

So hello again, you now know an actual refugee.

One that has made a life here, played in a punk band, wrote a book, got married, had “anchor” children (Yet another story!), started company, employed hundreds’ of people, and whose technological innovation is core to cloud computing (or so I’d like to think). Right now I’m involved in helping global 2000 adopt the next generation of cloud technology. And yes, I am a refugee.

Some people know me as the founder of newScale, a software company acquired by Cisco in 2011. Some people would say I’m a “job creator”. I’d say I like inventing futures. But my influence is nothing compared to other refugees / immigrants like Andrew Grove, who escaped Hungary’s communist regime. Or Google’s Sergey Brin, whose parents emigrated from Russia.  All refugees. Steve Jobs’ dad was Syrian.

Hopefully, this gives you hope.

Immigration is a big challenge for any society. Yet it’s a big opportunity for our European brothers.   This massive, ambitious, bold group of people. If welcomed, integrated and helped might create the next European dream.

I write this because between the news narrative, native’s pejorative, the wonder of what could be is being lost.

So let’s start here. Hello. I’m your friendly, local refugee. Ask me anything.

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