Volunteering for 6 months in a refugee camp can teach you a lot. It teaches you compassion, empathy, kindness, generosity, and above all, perseverance. A refugee’s story is the exemplification of courage and grit which is something people across the world are struggling to obtain during these hard times we are now facing. Which is why, now more than ever before, we need to hear stories of inspiration, determination, and courage. Here are the top 4 lessons I learned from refugees on how to push through a crisis:


There is always something we have in our lives to be grateful for: our very existence, our friends, our family, and perhaps our surroundings. Teaching English to Syrian refugee kids taught me this – you don’t have to have everything in the world to be grateful. Oftentimes, the people who are most grateful are those with nothing because they see the value in everything and know not to take life for granted. 

So, what are you grateful for? Who are the people in your life that you are thankful for?


What will you do once this is over? Do you have any specific goals or plans?

It’s very important to remember that one day this will all be over, so try to envision your future. What will you do? What type of person do you want to become? This will also help you feel hopeful and optimistic about the future and bring you more positivity during this time. 


You can still control what you think, how you feel, and how you grow. My refugee friends taught me this because they were not in control of their situation. However, instead of focusing on that, they focused on what they could control, such as their happiness, their emotions, and how they could grow themselves. 

So how do you wish to grow at the moment? What are the things you can focus on that you can control?


Things will get better and this too shall come to an end. Even though my refugee friends had lost everything due to war, something they never lost was hope. Through every hard situation, they always held the hope of a brighter future in their hearts. The feeling of hopefulness can completely change our attitude – it can take us from a negative mindset to a more optimistic and cheerful outlook on life. 

What are things you can be hopeful for after this ends? What does hope look like to you during this time?

Volunteering in the refugee camp brought me so many insights, but by far the greatest lesson I learned was what it truly meant to persevere and be courageous. Just like how I learned these lessons from my dear friends, there is a very important lesson to be learned from this experience we are all currently facing – a lesson in grit, courage, persistence, and what it truly means to be hopeful for a brighter future.

To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.

Tennessee Office for Refugees