“A refugee is… my hilarious best friend with a heart of gold”

UK for UNHCR communications officer Genna AlTai tells us about her best friend – who was forced to flee Tbilisi in Georgia. 

More stories

© Ramil Ugot

 

It’s difficult to assign a label to my best friend.  

Asya* is many things to so many different people; she speaks four languages fluently, has lived in countless different countries, can rival any stand-up comedian with her one-liners (and Instagram Stories) and also happens to be a doting foster dog parent. Asya and her family are also refugees.  

“We basically packed up everything and left immediately for an equally dangerous Moscow, but we weren’t there for very long.”

“I remember it was my naptime. I was so young at the time, but I remember feeling really anxious and confused about what was going on,” Asya told me.  

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Asya and her family were forced to flee a politically volatile Georgia after death threats were made to her father, who was a former civil servant.  

“We basically packed up everything and left immediately for an equally dangerous Moscow, but we weren’t there for very long. I only went back to Georgia decades after that to see family. It was so strange.” 

To this day, Asya and her family are still unsure of exactly what happened back in Tbilisi, but that hasn’t held Asya back one bit. She was granted a scholarship to study at UCLA, obtained her MA in International Relations and now works in marketing and communications here in London for multinational corporations.  

Going through constant changes and succeeding in new environments taught Asya to adapt in all circumstances, but also gave her a deep appreciation of “third culture kids” like herself, whilst developing a profound sensitivity to the differences that shape our identities.  

Asya is a walking example of the creativity and resilience that so many refugees bring to their “third cultures” and I know, personally, my days are funnier, brighter and more colourful with her in my life.  

To find out more about the campaign, share your contribution (by July 5th) or find out more about supporting UK for UNHCR, visit our website.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Share This