In the midst of the season’s first snowstorm, MoveOn Executive Director Anna Galland hosted the first in a series of Thanksgiving dinners that brought together recently settled refugees, elected officials and community leaders. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl were among those attending. Photo from MoveOn.org

The cozy house on a quiet street in Evanston might have seemed to some of the guests worlds away from their ravaged native country, but Syria itself – and the world’s response to its crisis – were doubtless on most everyone’s mind.

This early Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Anna Galland, executive director of moveon.org. Civic Action,  and her husband, Christopher Skeaff, was among the first in a national series of dinners bringing together major progressive leaders and local refugees. The guests included Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl; Ai-jen Poo, head of National Domestic Workers Alliance; Sara El-Amine, head of Organizing for America; Hind Makki; Suzanne Akhras Sahloul and Hadia Zarzour, Syrian Community Network and two recently resettled Syrian refugee families.

“Thanksgiving dinner with Syrian refugees was an extraordinary evening. Grace, courage determination and love of family came through broken English beautifully. I was reminded that we live in a great nation of immigrants. I came away thankful and proud to live in a city whose schools, teachers and residents were praised by the Syrians for our treatment of refugees,” said Mayor Tisdahl.

MoveOn’s Brian Stewart wrote of the event, “Multiple Syrian refugees spoke to the group over dinner, sharing their story of coming to Chicago – including a mother of two named Fatima Idriss, who spoke about seeing her home in Syria destroyed and how all of them had seen horrors before fleeing …Then several … kids spoke, including a 9-year old who had the whole room in tears after haltingly but clearly sharing the story of how he came to Chicago.”