Tom Robb

Transcription of Tom Robb, Part 1
Interviewee: Tom Robb
Interviewer: Mark Lecker, Dorothy Nygren, & Sarah Altinbasak
Date: March 20, 2014
Place: Edgewater Historical Society, Chicago, Illinois
Transcriber: Mark Lecker. Dorothy Nygren, Sarah Altinbask
Total Time: 52:23 minutes

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

DN: Well you have to start by saying where we are…

ML: We are at the Edgewater Historical Society right now, and we are interviewing Tom Robb, who is a local minister?

TR: I’m a local social advocate.

ML: Ok. And the time is 1:20, and it is March 20th. You say you are a local social advocate? What is the definition of a local social advocate?

TR: Well I can explain it this way: first of all, I’m retired. And in the last twenty some years, I have been heavily engaged in working with refugees, and immigrants, asylees, the undocumented, etc. and working with the very poor in the Edgewater community through the Edgewater Pantry called Care for Real. Along the route toward and during that time, I directed education and employment for World Relief, I helped start the Bosnian refugee center, and organized its legal status. We organized the Lost Boys of Sudan: The Chicago Association for the Lost Boys of Sudan was initiated in our living room. And I’ve just been asked to sit on the board of the Burmese Mutual Assistance Association. So I’m in it. Most of it came from volunteer work. And the volunteer work through the churches that I’ve been a part of, and then through other associations. So, I think we’re here,


I’m excited that you’re here in Edgewater, taking a look at the different kinds of immigrant, refugee, etc. And so maybe I can help by starting off by separating the groups. They don’t look different. Perhaps if you assume that a whole bunch of people look like this must be that, that isn’t true. The people coming from somewhere else and becoming a part of our society is the way I’d like to categorize it, rather than give it one big name. Refugee is a legal, functional description. And a refugee, while we see the meaning as someone who seeks refuge from, the meaning that it has in the legal sense here in the United States is that refugees are people who come from a place, andwho were determined to be refugees based on their status in a community, and that status made them vulnerable in their homeland community to death, to punishment, to torture, and a number of similar descriptions. And that vulnerability is reviewed and established that there is a category of people in one or another communities that can be called refugees. And that determination is made by the high commissioner for refugees of the United Nations. The U.N.H.C.R.: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re coming here. Refugee means that they’re established based on their vulnerability to torture, punishment, all kinds of things, as a category, not as an individual. The individual we’ll go to in the next little piece.

As a category, for example, in Bosnia, which is where I did a lot of work, in the Bosnian community, Bosnian Muslims were the target of Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs. Bosnian Serbs were the targets of Bosnian Croats and Bosnia Muslims…Bosnian Croats were the targets of Bosnian Serbs. …. Anyway the Muslims and the mixed families were in jeopardy as they attempted to do something called ‘ethnic cleansing.’ And since forty percent of the people in that community in the larger cities had inter-married for two generations, it was a bit bizarre thinking it could be ethnic cleansable. So it became a call for power and it was identified through religion. And as they said there in Yugoslavia, their identity papers would have categories, the category of Croat, the category of Serb, category of Macedonian, and category Muslim. Which kind of interrupted the process. So anyway that’s a group that the United Nations said is vulnerable, and certainly it was being…the treatment of them was horrendous, with continuing camps, and sniper shooting, I think my wife says it all the time, I don’t know where she was saying it, but something like seventeen thousand children were killed by snipers, under the age of twelve. That means there was an intentional design to participate in the wiping out of certain people. That, also called genocide, I think it’s formerly called genocide for Bosnia, now.


But that decided, the United Nations said they’re refugees. Now, refugees then have to go through a process. They go to the United Nations or appointed representatives of various countries, interview, and then try to get in. The countries have different standards. For example, refugees went from Bosnia to Germany, all got a pink slip saying when the war’s over, you’re going home. If they went to England, they got the same kind of, when it’s over, you’re going home. When they came to the United States, they said wait five years, you’re a citizen. That’s a lot of difference. And the papers that they got here identified them as permanent residents. Immediately, when they landed, they could work, they were permanent residents, they were just waiting for their card to come through the mail. It’s not all that simple, but sort of. So those refugees that were accepted by the United States met the United States standards for being able to do something. And one of the standards was if you accept refugees, was that they must be able to be self-sufficient in a short period of time. And they come in, the United Nations identifies who’s coming, our interviewing going on in the other countries say who’s suitable, and then at the United Nations, there’s a selection process with the volunteer agencies which we call ‘resettlement agencies.’


And there are a number of resettlement agencies. Many of them are religious oriented. For example HIAS for the Jewish community is really big, and it got its footing after the Second World War. We have World Relief which is a worldwide organization that handles needs all over the country here as far as resettling, but do work outside the country. Heartland Alliance in Chicago is a part of a larger refugee society, and social programming in the country. And these agencies agree to look after the resettlement of appropriately, legally, determined refugees. So while some people would think of it as a stigma, it’s a status that had certain privileges assigned to it. Every state had a refugee programming.

Resettlement agencies have the obligation from the Department of State to participate in resettling the individual. The individual may come under two different statuses: one is reunifying families.Certain family members can come and they can be sponsored, if they met the refugee requirement in their home country, or in the country that they were temporarily staying, due to their status in their home country. Then they came here, and if they came here because they choose America because Uncle George is here, Uncle George picks them up at the airport, and there are few…it’s a much different track.

ML: Does it have to be a familiar connection, or can it be a family friend?


TR: The familial thing is the most common. And there are a lot of people who claim to be cousins, in order to accomplish it. Then they changed that by regulation from time to time, to say, “Well now it has to be one party away, not three parties away.” So it has to be a child, or a parent, it has to…or sibling. But in other times it could be cousins, it could be extended relatives.

ML: Is that based off of the current refugee status for that particular group, or is that just an over-arching policy put in place?

TR: I don’t want to misstate. I believe it is an overall restriction or release, that’s made upon the refugee…the Administration by the Department of State. And so when they do that, for example, you couldn’t come here as a refugee unless you were self-sufficient. And during the time of President Clinton, when he finally realized - in his words “I realized what was going on.” And all the beds of Europe were full, and they needed to send people here for medical care, and my work was always with people that had significant medical trauma, or had been in concentration camps. So those people, they couldn’t come here, except as tourists. And he changed that. He says, “No, no, no. We’re going to change that by executive order.” You may have heard about an executive order recently. By executive order, he said people could come, the families could all come, and the status of refugees if they qualify otherwiseand they’re not known terrorists, and so on and so on. So that group was able to come, the heavy wounded, and their families, everybody and they’re citizens, and they stayed and some of them got over their wounding, and others didn’t. But they released that one restriction. So that’s why I’mon that experience, I think they have these limitations, it goes to everyone, it doesn’t go to one group or another.


The worst thing is… not the worst. Many people come in under false pretenses. And are validly refugees. And somebody agrees to sponsor them. And as they agree to sponsor them, they come. And some of the sponsors aren’t there, even their closest cousins disappear immediately, and they’re left with nothing. Now, those who come without the agent, without the family support structure or otherwise, they come in through the resettlement agency. They get training in English, they get job training and job assistance, they have acculturation issues to get through and a great deal of services rendered to them getting them into the public systems, getting their healthcare taken care of, schools for the kids, so on and so on. Those who come in as family don’t get that service. So that’s just to separate those two little groups. But when they get the service, it does wear out after a while. They get time with…. We had forty teachers teaching English at World Relief for a period of time, because we had so many refugees coming. Then 9/11 happened, and I think there are only about six people left teaching English now. So the change in how everything happened after that.

But acculturation issues are big, and the refugees who come and have resettlement agencies assigned. Those agencies are funded through the Department of State, and administered by the state of Illinois, to provide those services are accountable for providing those services. The people claim that they- and many of them were - promised something else. They all get a house. They all get a this. They all get a that. The standard, as I can see it having worked in it for years, is it’s pretty much pretty evenly done. Some agencies are better equipped, have better trained people with more compassion, others are not, and others just see it as an income producing function. That’s the refugee and the two statuses of coming here.


Now, there’s another group. The asylee. The asylee is a group that we could say are people who…I’ll give you a few examples. A young man came here, he’s a physician. And he was on a world round tour, because he was on with people who could be. And he had been working in Vietnam to help people with…He was an othopedic surgeon, and did a lot of different pieces. And the war broke out. And he claimed asylum, because he knew he couldn’t go home at that time. Now they all would have loved to have him, on the other hand he was clear enough that he was Muslim. He fit all the issues of being someone who would expect to be punished for going home. He stayed, and he ended up being a professor of orthopedics in a school of medicine, even before he got a license, because taking the tests are a different story, but he had such a high status worldwide, but he did. Now he’s an orthopedic surgeon and head of Spine and Surgery for Northwestern. Doing pretty good. But he was an asylee. He asked for asylum.___


A young woman living in my house is from Syria. She was just granted permanent asylum. And she will soon be able to apply for a green card, that is a permanent resident card, and go on toward citizenship if she decides to stay. She came here to go to a wedding. She couldn’t go home because the airports were closed. Her parents said,“There’s gunshots around the house here every day, rather you be there.” She didn’t know about the gunshots in Chicago at the time. But the idea of asylee is a process where you could go in and say, “Here’s who I am. Here’s why I’d like this status.” and you ask the Department of State to consider you. And when they consider you, you go through a few interviews, and you prove things a little bit, and when you’ve been accepted as an asylee, you’re on the route. You do not necessarily have a resettlement agency. You don’t have those kinds of services. You kind of have to fend for yourself on that status. There are some around. I’ve been involved with religious organizations who have felt like they had a mission to help everybody that came in their door. Through that process we’ve been able to keep some of the service some way or another.

Now there’s of course the great student business, and people come here as students. The foreign student has certain restrictions. Foreign student comes. They can’t work to make a living. They have to come financed. They have to pay their tuition. They don’t apply for financial aid. They don’t apply for any of that, as the norm. I shouldn’t make too big a statement. As a norm. Now this norm of the student, they come. They have to struggle quite a bit or they have to be very, very wealthy which does leave a certain kind of concept of the status. When they’re through, however, they get a year after they finished a degree to get some experience here, and then they’re no longer supposed to be here. Unless they can find an employer who can prove that only they can be here, that they’re the one person for that job, and they couldn’t find a suitable American to take that job. Yes?


ML: So does the employer at that point almost become a sponsor for them?

TR: Yes. In fact they’re sponsoring big money. They have to apply for, they have to pay the expenses, they need a legal assistance in the process, and it’s a big deal. But the employer is basically contracted with the State Department, to be responsible for this person having employment, and if they don’t they’ll be told so. So we’ve helped sponsor some of those activities. And that’s a long, some people say painful, process to get from a position from being a student on a student visa, to being in a position to have a permanent residency. A lot of student visas don’t get completed. They disappear. And so that’s an issue of itself. But those who care to go about the process, it isn’t easy. But it does work.

And then of course we have those who are here, perhaps born here and are citizens, but their parents have been here for fifty years without appropriate documentation, and that’s its own issue. I can’t say I’m an expert in that other than by being close to it.Is there any other question on this line?


Ok, now immigrants, all of them are immigrants. But those right now, there is a large category called immigrants. Now during the last few…the last couple of decades, I think, there are things called the ‘green card lottery.’ And the green card lottery is all over the world. There’s a lot of folks I’ve helped who came here from former U.S.S.R. They applied for the lottery. They got it. When they got that green card, it was in their hands when they left their country. They were not refugees. They’re immigrants. Others come here and immigrate here through other channels, but the green card lottery is a big…that’s one of the more recent smashing things.

But other people come here because they can, because there’s quotas of certain kinds of people from different parts of the world, I’m not an expert in that area at all. But for example there were an awful lot of people coming from China, and a lot of people coming from Japan, and they cracked down and said only so many can come a year. They would be allowed in, because they came from places and we had some relationship or some history, and a law passed to take care of them - the Cubans, for example. We had a law that said any Cuban that arrives on our shore is a permanent resident. They’re a refugee. They didn’t have to go through any interviews until they arrived. There are so many wrinkles to this, and I wouldn’t want to end up with one picture and you can polish it off and say, “This is a shining example.”


But the immigrants have come, many of them, for a variety of reasons. There’s also the marriage option.It’s always puzzled me that people who claim, “Oh all they have to do is get somebody to marry them, and then they’ll all be ok.”Marriage - the problem with marriage is that if it’s a refugee or whatever it is. If a person gets married…. comes here in one status and wants to stay here now as a married, they have to prove why, what they are going to do. Some of them are forced to go back and come back or to have the other member of the family go and come. I don’t know enough about it. I’ve heard enough horror stories. And one of the young doctors that I helped come over…I actually was his sponsor. This is not the one I spoke of earlier. He married a young doctor from another country who had been here on a student visa. In order for them to stay together, she was to go home for two years before she could come back, something like that. Through appeal – through the judge system and I wrote the appeal that explained their status and so on…. He was allowed to waive that requirement. So those are sticky stuff outside my specialty. It’s just that I’m really aware never to promise anything to anybody that sounds so easy. (Laughs)


So now we’ve covered the refugee, the U.N. status and the refugee, the U.S. role and the refugee and other nations who take them temporarily and nations that take them permanently. We are probably as nice as any about taking them in on a permanent status. However, if you went to Germany with temporary, they look after you better than anybody. You left there with as pension. So it’s amazing. Just those are things that…. The world comes very small and the benefit goes to the people who come. But we’re still talking about refugees and asylees, people who have come here because they had no other options.


And we look at the immigrants who choose to come here and qualify and go through the process themselves. Or they’ve asked for the green card in the lottery and they’ll suddenly have [won] a lottery. Once they get here, they can send for their family members to come and join them and they’ll come over as immigrants. But that first one is a big one to get. Any questions at all about any of this layout?


DN: Is the green card lottery subject to the quota?

TR: I can’t answer that. My belief is that it’s the manner in which they establish the quota. I think the lottery is – so many places will be available, from this country, from that country. It’s open now. It’s going to be closed in six months. Get your stuff in.

GS: That’s correct.

TR: Ok. You know a little more about this. Yeah. It’s my understanding that the lottery itself is the restriction on the number.

ML: When you said they go to the U.N. to get refugee status, to be established as a group as refugees by the U.N. and then these agencies almost bid to take people in, do the groups or do the people themselves have choices as to which country they go to, or is essentially assigned?


TR: I think they can have preferences. But when it comes down to it, in some cases, it is so critical that they be given a place to go, compared to other places….. The Lost Boys of Sudan had lived for years in a camp in Kakuma in Kenya. And they’d been there after a camp in Ethiopia. So these guys, when it came time to have a place to go, they waited. They’d go up every day until they’d see their name was on a list and then they’d figure out where that place was. They weren’t in a position of choice. On the other hand, we have people from Europe and from the Middle East who are very sophisticated. They know why they want to go where they want to go. And they can manipulate many things and participate in the decision more overtly. But it still ends up, if they really need to go, the option is made for them and you shouldn’t turn it down, kind of….


GS: Maybe we should turn to the experience of refugees here in this community and what you see are their main problems. Can you elaborate on that?

TR: Yes. The main issues faced …. Let’s do it this way - language. Language and culture are the easy ways to say this. Language alone is the first thing that quote “everybody should be focused on.” If they come out of traumatic circumstances, they won’t be open to have their language [issues] solved in the same speed and efficiency as others. So the good news here is that if you are a refugee or an asylee, there are programs at the City Colleges, the Junior College that you can go through. The young woman of mine is in Level Ten now at Truman [College]. And she will be qualified to initiate university level English courses when she finishes this semester. So she’s worked her way up. She knew English when she got here, but not good enough to be a student in a competitive environment in the university. The kids go to school. So you got the first language…and language is that confrontation…it takes on the issue of the person….but it’s got lots of sources available if they find the people who can help them get to them.


The second issue is family. This is loosely ‘culture.” Single father arrives with three children. His wife was killed as they were leaving the country. Little kids. He came from Iraq. He’d never boiled water. He’s stuck in an apartment over here in Edgewater and didn’t have any idea what to do, how to do it, where to turn. They ended up with bedbugs in the place. So he ended up coming from a circumstance that was not good with great grief and difficulty and ends up here with three little ones – I mean three year old, five year old, and six year old little boys. They were a handful. But this guy [was] dedicated to his children. But he was facing something that is typical of a lot of people coming. A lot of people came with early adolescent children and they were the grandparents, because the parents were killed. All of a sudden there’s an entirely new society and an entirely new structure and it’s very very difficult. Many many problems in the families.


There are problems of the family being re-established here when the wife came with the children, not knowing about the husband. They finally found him in a camp. He came. He’s got all kinds of issues carrying with him from the trauma. And she’s got the issues of carrying with her about being abandoned in a foreign land without the language. And the struggle that goes on from there is very difficult. All I can say is that I keep seeing examples of the strength of the families that have faced these things. So many of my friends that are here, marrying the girl next door, going to school the same way, studying at the same level, doing all that and getting a divorce over something nobody knows about it. And these people hang in there and say, “Deal with it.” in the face of some of the most difficult circumstances.


So language, families. Education is a challenge. A lot of kids come in. There were sixth graders. All of a sudden they’re fifth graders and they’re really mad. They go home and pout about it. The parents say,”But da,da, da. Nobody understands.” They come to Mr. Tom and say, “Tell us. Why do we have to put up this humiliation? I don’t want to go to a fifth grade class. I’m a sixth grader.” Those little things are easy to deal with, quite honestly they are. But they’re a part of what’s happening inside that family structure and the school system and who are we in the middle of this.

Many of them have different specific issues. For example, many of the people coming in from the Middle East have different symbols for mathematics. Two plus two still equals four. Division – they make it different. It looks different. They see this stuff on a piece of paper but they can’t answer it. That puts them back a class. But they excelled in math where they were. “How did I miss in math?” “Because nobody told you what this symbol looked like.” We had the wonderful opportunity, when I was at World Relief, and we took all the children in summertime on a preparation field. So the kids would go to summer camp with us all summer. And we gave them…. We had a professor from the Bosnian Teachers College, the director of the college but he was a mathematics professor. He developed a test for us that would help us place the child at what level mathematics. We used that for all levels. He was a very bright guy working in a pizza place.


So we’ve got families. We’ve got language. Now we’ve got employment. And employment is a major challenge that’s very bad now, but it was not so bad twenty years ago. The people come. They could find work. Many of them…. Say it this way…. I have observed a lot of people who say, “I’ll come in and I’ll do anything.” So I had a guy who is the professor, the head of a guitar department in Sarajevo, a professor of guitar and his wife, the head of a piano department with forty professors under her. They came and they were babysitters and did housekeeping. He did construction work. Those were…. So that’s a little of its own. Those stories are around.

When they’re facing what they’re going to do, how do they see themselves? It’s probably not inappropriate to mention to Adler students that psychology is involved in everything. So we get the people coming who are certain that they are superior to Americans. And others, who are so down on themselves, so frightened and overwhelmed by the issues around them that they hardly open their mouths. And between those two things there are a whole lot of wonderful people coming.


Let’s see. What else? Well housing is a huge problem. Housing, when you think like our boys from Sudan, have a room by themselves – the first time they’d ever seen that in their life! We get them a two bedroom, a three bedroom, apartment. Each guy has a room. “We know each other. Why aren’t we together? We’ve always been together.” So there’s a culture and an experience and a maturity question that goes into this that’s very important. There are those who come from very advantaged circumstances because war doesn’t pick.

We are sort of interested in one of the things that happened with the Bosnians. One gentleman came here. Everyone knew him. He’d been the CEO of a big textile company. His leg was blown off when he was in the marketplace in February ‘92. So Hassan, he and his wife, he and wife were used to being on the top of the social register. His daughter was working for Izetbegović, the president of the country at the time. But he was here and needed the medical care and there was no place else for him to go. But he didn’t have anything but what they were getting from the state. His wealth didn’t transfer here. And we paid for his rent from the church, took care of all the issues, and he turned seventy while he was here. So he was older and used to being in charge and his attitude was terrific. But his poor wife was scared all the time.

And we had a lot of younger people who were invincible until they lost their arm or something or had to go into the camps. They couldn’t believe their neighbors were doing these things to them. So we have a lot of trauma things going on. And that adjustment factor is so individual, and yet it can be generalized, if that makes any sense. You can generalize but every one of them is going to have a very individual problem.


GS: But it seems to me there is a problem of people coming here with high status with a loss of prestige and status. They have to adjust psychologically.

TR: That’s right. The seventy year old, he’s already has been the head of everything. So he just saw himself as retired. His leg was mending. They went back and live happily ever after.

ML: At least for a little while.

TR: That was twenty years ago and I don’t think Hassan is still around. There are those who come who are big shot lawyers or professors or…. The doctors struggled for years while they tried to pass the tests. Some of them threw up their hands and quit trying. Then they had to learn how to participate in what was going on around them. So the doctors; they had to pass their tests. Well they passed their tests with flying colors in Bosnia. Now they’re here. They have to go back and study and pass four tests. It takes four, five, six years to get through that process to qualify and finally get accepted. And then they had to find a residency program. So my job was with them was writing their personal statements and helping sell them. Theyjust didn’t have an idea how to do this. Their culture didn’t tell them to brag. And it didn’t tell them to dramatize. The culture said, “Look at what I’vedone. You must be impressed. I’m coming.” And then they send it out and nobody answers them. Nobody calls. And then they call and “Oh I’m sorry. I don’t think I saw yours…” It was that kind of…. So we had to impact and we had to teach them to have an impact on their own life in a new way. And I guess in a lot of ways, that’s the issue of the multiple layers of fabric that go in to the process of being a refugee.


The immigrants usually come here with an agenda that’s well established. They know what they’re going to do when they come. Those that come on work visas, which I supposed I should have already commented on about H1s work visas. They come because they have a job. They come to work. A lot of the issues are settled. But if you come here and find out you’ re under the Illinois Public Aid Assistance Program and if you don’t work, they take your money away from you. But that’s when you don’t work. But no, no. When you don’t work you take it away. And that was all part of [President] Clinton’s Welfare Reform Act that said welfare to work was the idea. And once your child got over three, you had to be at work. What’s this, what’s that? All these things happening. These people come into a society that’s struggling with it anyway. But they come in and say, “Why does that make a difference? Who are you to tell me what?” So those are issues that are very subtle and I think they speak to the needs…. And I think what’s so great about the Edgewater community is that so many were here. We know that we put Bosnians in apartment buildings managed by Bosnians who had been here for twenty years.


So Edgewater was full of support systems. The building manager’s wife would take the kids down to the public school and walk in and tell her how to do this and this. There was a lot of support structure that just came out of the woodwork in the community. And then a lot of the churches participated in….. At least nothing I got involved with… I would not allow anybody to proselytize. It’s not about making someone into something else. But it is about extending yourself into making a better human, more humanity, and participating in the development of the human place to be. And I think that’s what we found among many of our colleagues who were doing it.

ML: Did the lack of proselytizing make a better connection between churches and organizations and the (unintelligible)? Did it make it more comfortable?

TR: I gotta say it this way. Edgewater is unique. There’s a group of people called E.C.R.A. E.C.R.A. was originally the Edgewater Clerical and Rabbinical Association, now the Edgewater Community Religious Association because it includes the Christians of all kinds of stripes, the Jews, the Muslims, and so on. And they meet every month,. I just had a meeting yesterday. They kept me on after I retired. But my job, when I was running the pantry [Care for Real] for ten years, was to do a description of the status of the poor in the community, and it could always include the refugees. So there’s that kind of an attitude that permeates the community all over, makes it really nice. The Catholic schools were taking the kids in and finding scholarships for them. So the kids who were sort of overwhelmed by going over to the much bigger and more confusing public school would go over to the Catholic school and get help. That’s the point. There were a lot of concepts that were very healthy, that make people feel welcome and then would acknowledge that they were participating in some way, that they had a role in our society here. That’s the beauty of the Edgewater experience. I’m sure it’s elsewhere the same, but I can vouch on this one.


DN: Can you talk a little bit more about refugees finding a role in Edgewater that would contribute to their sense of home and self esteem in life?

TR: Well I think the first thing is that the people were so open. And a lot of it was the community itself was giving. And when they recognized that someone was from Bosnia or Sudan or something, they’d shak3e their hand and then say, ‘Oh, what do you need?” My garage had over four thousand people go through it to pick up furniture, which means that all had to come in from all over the community. And the churches and so on. We seemed to always have a new group coming. But in those days we would let people know. “We have a lot of people coming over in the next six weeks from here or there.” People would come out of the woodwork who could speak Arabic, or do this or do that, show up, participate in finding the furniture. People would call up. ‘I want to get rid of this this and this. We’d get it all and move it out. That was an Edgewater phenomenon. It worked through the religious communities, but it worked through all the block clubs. It was open. It was very easy to work with


ML: Did you find that the people who were helped by the community would turn around and help others as they stayed and as time went on?

TR: I would say yes. And almost to the point…well I’m so close to so many, and they continue to….I’ve just got word one of our first “grandchildren” – we call her that. Her father had a bullet in his spine and came over here. And she spoke excellent English. When she arrived here, she was one of the best speakers in her eleven year old class. She just had her second baby. So I’m a great grandfather now. (Laughs) The second child was born on the anniversary of their coming here for twenty years. So this is a …. But those people aren’t there all the time to help. They worked hard to get where they’re going. Those who…. We tried to really emphasize, at least in the community I was working with, or communities, that we valued education. Well this girl got her Masters in finance and she is a wealth officer for Wells Fargo Bank. The others, well we got them going from all over the place. The woman who came here with two kids after being terribly brutalized and she was a poster child with PTSD [Post Traumatic Syndrome]. The kids were little, little. The daughter when she arrived was…. She’d hadn’t spoken for two years… hadn’t spoken. Just like that. You’d smile at her….. Her little brother was Mr. Cheerful, but she had watched all these things happen and experienced them terribly. Now she’s about to graduate Pre-Med and she’s coming out of it all. This is so exciting and so big. They are helping others, to answer your question.


Sure. I think there may be one or two selfish people – not like us Americans (Laughs). The point is it goes back to that original statement. They’re all human beings and the things they carry with them are additional baggage that we don’t necessarily grasp. But they’re coming here as full human beings with all kinds of screwy attitudes. There’s certainly the male – female, or issues about gays or something like that. All those issues are very challenging, very challenging. They’re so absolute sure of themselves. Then they come someplace and see that gay marriage is on television as being passed in all these states. They say, “How does that work?” Well, some of us are still saying that. But we know it’s there and we know how many people that we know and care for are like that and are now getting married. And we love it. But that’s a question of its own. The people coming here find themselves in a different social structure than is publicly discussed, whereas these would be private discussions. All of a sudden it’s in the public and everyone’s talking about it.


SA: What about discrimination against immigrants?

TR: Lots of it. The thing that I think we had in Edgewater, that I can claim for Edgewater at least, was that we knew there was discrimination and we let people know that we understood that, and that we were going to work very hard not to be in our relationships. And people agreed. Once they started to see that happening…. They knew there were those that wouldn’t talk to them because they were…. It’s sort of like … If you can understand the thousands of people I dealt with - most of them were Muslim. So I’d go places. People sitting around, ‘Oh I don’t know. I don’t like those Muslims.“ I don’t know. Everyone I love, so many of them are Muslims. It has nothing to do with whether they’re human beings and wonderful people. It has to do with how they went through their cultural upbringing and who they are to themselves and to the world around them. But it doesn’t mean they’re terrorists. And that prejudice is huge. Even among our closest friends, we’ve had to say, ‘We’ve been friends for twenty years, but you want to talk like that, I think we can end this.” I’m willing to do that to people. Is it time?

DN: No, we’re fine.


TR: So prejudice, you’re right Sarah. The prejudice is something that a lot of us Americans, so to speak, depending on how you are an American. I don’t know… .In my image as a WASP, I’m absolutely certain there’s no prejudice… but those Jews I know they’re a little different. (Laughs) That’s the problem, and once you break that down….and we do it by having open discussions about it, that is among our friends. We’ve had many parties where we’ve had sixty people in our back yard from the refugee community so they could get the picture. I wasn’t into it. Yeah, I got you and I got you and we’re going to have a party here. That helped. But otherwise confronting it counts. After 9/11 a lot of my Bosnian families, especially the less educated ones, were absolutely paranoid about letting their kids go to school without being walked to school, were scared to death about what was going to happen. And they had reason to feel that way.


Transcript of Tom Robb, Part 2
Interviewee: Tom Robb
Interviewed by: Mark Lecker, Sarah Altinbasak, and Dorothy Nygren
Transcribed by: Sarah Altinbasak, Dorothy Nygren
Date: March 20th, 2014
Location: Edgewater Historical Society, 5358 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL.

Total Time; 39:34 minutes

TR: Pursuing the issue on prejudice, some of the interesting things happened when the Lost Boys arrived. First of all, among them, they were the best they knew. There was nobody else over them. They lived in a camp where they didn’t even have parents so age didn’t matter. You know, these guys had their own sense of who they were and what they were about. And here the cops were throwing them around because they walked in groups which looked like gangs. So we spent time with the police and we had the police come to them and we did a lot of work to get that piece down. But then the Mexican gang came out and cut them up, put them in the hospital, because they were a gang taking over their basketball court. And so that went wrong, and the next place wrong and then began to realize just how stupid racial prejudice is when you see the people who are here so overtly and honestly attempting to build their lives and having it torn down by the limitation of people’s brains. And that’s been very interesting it’s a puzzle we’ve had to face many many times. I will tell the story about the older Bosnian woman who she was gonna get…. She got public housing and she moved into a little apartment in a big building full of people in public housing. She went someplace and said, “There’s a lot of black people there. Aren’t you frightened?” And she says, “Why? Are they Serbs?” (Laughs) So she didn’t identify black as dangerous but the others did. And it was at that point…. It was one of the pieces. That’s a really important question and it’s really important how it’s handled.


DN: In terms of the family values, the cultural values of refugees come with, how do you see that cutting themselves off in sense from services…other things that are out there? For example, if you have a family value that you don’t take anything from somebody, well that’s going to prevent you from making yourself available for social services that the community might have for you, or if there’s a gender prejudice. Orr, say somebody goes to Care for Real and sees somebody that’s the wrong, that’s a Serb and so on…

TR: Those pieces are always present. The one question they don’t take anything, for refugees, they’re here because it was survival action. Some more critically than others and the taking from….Sometimes it was a matter of them adjusting to the fact that they no longer had the world by the tail. They had to participate and they can get past it and into the place of not being in a position to take anymore but we would see…I would say probably I was unkind from time to time with people who were so arrogant that they wouldn’t…. You couldn’t give them anything, but they would take anything they could get. It was kind of, I don’t know if that makes any difference to you, it was kind of a sense of them. It took me awhile to adapt to the idea that this was the way they were determining themselves to be a whole people. It was through that behavior that said, “I am a person.” A man, a woman, whatever, I am gonna be in charge. And I’d rather liked that compared to the people who came and were so ripped that they more or less said, “Is there food?” And then sit and wait, you know. Not go get it, not do something about it, just keep expecting it. But those things pass over if they hang around they are just like everybody else in the world that has ongoing issues that


DN: One of the things we’ve been discussing is how social identity changes…

TR: Hm hum. Oh boy.

DN: And how in childhood your current value system gets set up. Everybody’s social identity will change over time, but I would suspect if you were an immigrant, or more importantly a refugee, there’s an assault on that feeling of self and identity that happens when encounter a new culture. And what kinds of adaptive mechanisms do refugees take to compensate for that loss?

TR: I can only speak to it for how the agencies I’ve been able to work with and the communities of people that I’ve worked with have tried to help them make that adaptation. I can’t say how they did it. Those who had a cleaner sense of themselves when they arrived, it could be because they had less trauma, it could be because they have more trauma, and I don’t have a clue which way it went. But when they arrived they had a sense of themselves. They started to be more observant of the things around them and how they fit and what parts of their history they can put aside. They would come forward.

I remember a guy who was here for three weeks and we were used to saying, “Just wait, just take it easy, one step at a time.” That was they refugee mantra, “One step at a time!” And this guy says, “I can’t stand the city, I want to live in the country.” So I went out and just happened to do a presentation to the Methodist churches in Wisconsin. And a church called and said, “We would like to have a family.” I took him up. Five years later I went up. He had three bakeries with you know, the guy was happy as he could be. He found a place, small time, had a bakery there. Then he went to another town, and he had contracts with the nursing homes to bring the baked goods to. He just plowed right in. And that was probably the personality he was before. But in the setting that he was in Chicago, everyone told him when he could get up when he could go to bed, when he would be at a meeting, the next meeting, make sure he had all of his documents with him, make sure that… And he said, “I don’t want this. Can I get somewhere else?” So we got him through the paperwork. We got him into Wisconsin. He lives in Mayville, Mayville Wisconsin. And he has a marvelous life, and a child and wife and son are there. They did very well. So if that’s answering or responding…


DN: It is because… What I think I’m hearing you say is if a refugee or an immigrant can find something here with which they can find something that can relate to where they came from, it makes them happy; like the open space of a farm will provide them with some foundation from which to move. And it could be, for example, from Edgewater. We talked about food. A food that makes you find that you’re at home somewhere.

TR: That’s a big thing. Those cultural things that… and they will show you. A priest who really wanted to help and everything…. When I talked to him, he said, “I don’t know. I just could never figure out. It seems like a refugee would have just a gaping need that I don’t think I could ever fulfill it. And I had to tell him, “Remember they’re at work in this too. It’s their… about the business of finding their life. You get to watch awhile and you maybe a party to something. You may participate in some of it, but it’s them who make it happen.“ And that goes for prejudice - all of it. It’s so interesting yeah…


DN: What do you see as being as the role of social justice and helping this whole process?

TR: I believe that the answer for most of the dilemma that people face can be found in more people being personally involved with them. When I see refugees coming and only sticking with themselves, they often live a very bitter unhappy life. And they wish they were twenty years ago somewhere else. Not that there’s no place else to go. They are just so unhappy. When they take, engage in something, even if it’s just the neighbor, and participate in any form. Now those who come here as immigrants have already figured that out. They’re coming here to accomplish something, so they got a driving force within them to do it. They’re gonna do these things, generally speaking. But the ones who come here by the default of the tragedies of their world, I think we need to be more careful.

For example, Care for Real, nobody is not all allowed. You can come in and throw a tantrum, yell at somebody. Tomorrow if you come back and behave you still get your food. The idea is let them be who they were. I started a company for the Bosnians for the wounded, because it meant if they were disabled, they had a lot of trouble getting a job. They had to go to the doctor, had problems here and there and we called it Rahatluk which is in that… through the place pf peace within the Muslim Arabic structure. So Rahatluk was the company. And we did houses; we did eighty five houses, two big apartment buildings in two years time. Twenty seven people working. But they didn’t take a day off. They did not come to work because they were sick. They had to go to the shrink, do whatever they needed to do, you know. That was the idea of this. And it really helped them find their own sense of who they were and it didn’t matter. But you have to find little tricks of ways to let them show you that they wanna get by this.

ML: When talking about cultural and talking about integrating and becoming a part of the community, the way I’ve always kind of understood it was especially with immigrants, they have almost a split forces pulling on them for… let’s call it the American culture and then their home culture, their country of origins culture. And you can either cling to the first and ignore the American culture. You can completely adopt the American culture and let go or you can meld the two. What do you think is the most common?


TR: I think the melding is a de facto. I think that there’s those who come with an agenda of their own, those especially who have been in the camps and very traumatic circumstances come quite stunned. They don’t have the flexibility to move. But when the society accepts them, it helps them accept the society. So, my thing is… and if you know people who know me, I have always been beating people up. You know, you gotta accept. Look what magnificent people we have with us now. Look how wonderful this is. If we can do that on our side, that allows them… because they’re still gonna have…

The young man that lived with us thirteen years, absolutely special guy, came here when he was just twenty years old, and he went to university. He got his degree. He went on to get his Masters. He now is the IT guy for the Academy of Arts and Sciences for the Chicago Public Schools, and got his… went from student status to green card. All that time, when he first arrived he came from a little village in Bosnia. His mother doesn’t read and write. His father learned the alphabet in the army. And he grew up in Germany in elementary school and he went to high school in Bosnia, being shot at by snipers when he went to school every day. So this is you know… it comes with a whole agenda of things, but he speaks Russian, German, Bosnian, and English. How many of us can claim this? You know this is really really remarkable. And he had to adjust to a lot of pieces. He didn’t know how to do anything. He lived in our house so we got to see him up close and personal. Getting used to the ideas of…. He was practicing Muslim and he would fast, perfectly happy. We didn’t have pork in the house for a long time, because we didn’t want him to have the sense…. We wanted him to feel the respect from us.

And I think that’s our obligation: show the respect of people, be curious about their points of view, try to learn to understand them, and they’re likely to start to participate in society without losing their own sense of themselves. The sadness is when this… and too many times, the young adolescents who came and family was in too much struggle and they’ll get caught up in gangs and other stuff. They got sort of sucked in, and that part… I don’t know. I just wish I knew better how to put that together. They were…Seeing the older people, the very old people tend to sit around in the apartments and talk to each other about how terrible everything is, but we do too… (Laughs) So that’s the part I just…. The humanity of our refugee, immigrant, all the society, the humanity is there, and if we’d like we could put them into little boxes and put them on the shelf and say, “This one’s here. This one’s there. That’s…”


DN: You said, “Let them be who they are…But what we can do is let them be who they are.” And we were thinking about that. From my perspective, the refugee, their feeling about themselves and their identity has been so constricted and collapsed by these traumatic experiences, that by allowing them to be who they are and to share the person that’s still in there somehow is enabling them to take control back over their life and engage with another human being one on one, and from that’s a starting place that you can move to…

TR: My thing is engage them, yeah. They need the engagement.

DN: So my question is, and I understand that very well, what you’re saying is that each one off us has to start from our own heart and soul to reaching out but not to impose, but to reach out…

TR: I impose everything! (Laughing) That’s been a joke around here.


DN: But on a larger scale - from an institutional or organizational standpoint, organizations like Care for Real or the church or E.C.R.A., what do you think would be the promoting the institutional level or the organizational level instead of the personal level? I know, that’s a biggie, isn’t it?

TR: Well, you know, we worked along with the police. I’ve been in the Alderman’s office an awful lot. We have to be participating where they are. And that’s… and I don’t know, it’s very easy to become institutionally bigoted or biased and to categorize things. I don’t know if I told you this, but I kind of believe in guerilla welfare.

DN: I don’t think so. Why don’t you tell us?

ML: Did you say guerrilla welfare?

TR: Yes.

ML: Just verifying that I heard that correctly…

TR: The idea is that if we look to the institutions to show us the way, we’ve lost. The institution should reflect our standards and if they don’t then we need to show them a different standard to reflect. You know the people talk about, “What do you mean like that?”


By that, well, who started the very first hospital?. Churches. They were built, put together by churches, not so the people would be religious but because it was the way they could provide the best service to the biggest needs of the people who are vulnerable in the community. Hospitals now, if you raise your hand and say I believe in. Stop! You can’t have anything religious. It’s not allowed, the institution says not. World Relief is an overtly evangelical community. I am not that way, but I was raised that way and I am comfortable with people who are. But in that setting everyone was looking. So when the Department of State came to do an audit, they went to one of the refugee’s houses and they saw the praying hands hanging on the wall. And they said. “Where did you get this?” And they said it was a gift from World Relief. Well, it was a gift from the church that adopted them. And we had hearings on proselytizing because [of] the praying hands. On the other hand, I’ve got the praying hands drawn by a Bosnian Muslim artist and given to me as a gift and hanging on my wall.

So the point I guess I’m making is guerrilla welfare is: look after the people around you. The institutions, you hope, will reflect your point of view and if they don’t see what you can do about it. Because I think social justice, for example, starts at home if you will. The justice issue,… when the institution doesn’t show the justice let’s find a way to make sure that it knows they are not reflecting the values that are around us.


GS: But isn’t it very difficult when you live in a culture of the individual that prevails here to foster that sense of community?

TR: I don’t know. I think that just like in every place, we’re just as capable of separating ourselves into little factions. And as any of the poor people who had to come here because that happened in their house. I guess that’s my answer. It’s my thing…. Social justice is an individual objective for me and if I go institutional on it, I quickly become kind of angry. My example: I was chairman of the Committee of Medicaid for Illinois. Well that’s sort of a social justice function if you will. Looking after the development and the distribution of care for the very poor, the most vulnerable. And I was asked by the State [of Illinois] to agree with them that they didn’t need… Once liver transplants were agreed to as a valid medical, that they didn’t need to pay for them. They’d excused themselves from paying for them before, because it was experimental But once they were validated I, as chairman, was asked to agree with them, that they would not pay for them now either. I said, “No, that’s not right. You’ve got your reason not to do it. All the insurance companies of the world said they wouldn’t’ do it unless it was valid but once it’s valid that question’s over.“ But the institution would be happy to not have it be over. They like to keep things….


DN: I think one of the problems with the institutions is they’re distributers of resources, often scarce resources. So there’s an implicit power [struggle] going on over about who gets and who doesn’t. Whereas when you’re relating on an individual basis and reflecting humanity of someone else, ideally at least that connection should not be subject to power struggles…

TR: I hope that the people we participate with… and we all face institutions. I don’t mean to say something wrong about the State, and I’m not trying to make fun of them. They responded as institutions respond. My task, and the way I responded was, “You can’t do this.” Now fortunately they didn’t do it. And it wasn’t a matter of my power. I think they knew right away that it wouldn’t be me that made the problem. It would be any number of other places that get the problem. But institutions need to be reflecting who we are. In some countries institutions only reflect the need of the person in power and that’s the sadness. Because that person’s obligation to think for all people and make everyone wrong that doesn’t agree gives us what we have as the problem.

DN: I’m sorry to be the only one asking. Does someone else have something to ask?

TR: Make up a question… I enjoy this very much. (Laughs)

ML: I actually have one.

GS: Go ahead. You know I don’t want to discuss with you my personal views on this here but we can after this thing…


ML: For families that come over as an entire group and I know that’s kind of a fairly specific group of immigrants and refugees, how sturdy is the family structure of where they came from, maintained here? If it’s a matriarchal society, does it stay that here even though that tends not to be the case in this country?

TR: I think it does. I think that it does for the most part. We know the bizarre cases when everything falls apart. But then again, all we have to do is look at two of our friends. Everything fell apart and they weren’t refugees. So I think the capacity of the refugee to face the same stresses is there. One of the things we’ve said in my tradition, the religious tradition…. When there’s a wedding, one of the parts of the wedding is to ask the community if they agree to uphold this marriage. And they say, “Yes, we will.” That started years and years ago, I mean centuries. That’s the oldest thing in the book that the community says, “We agree with how this is done. “ So when people come and their community is here and things are slipping and sliding, they don’t necessarily have a community here to support them the way they would have in their home…in their same environment. And they may find it very difficult. And certain of them have greater inner strengths for it. Others fall apart completely. But as I say I also notice that among my friends who are not refugees. So it’s hard for me to categorize it as a refugee dynamic. Stress results in problems.


ML: For people who come in with different statuses from the same country, do they interact well with each other? Do they have confrontation or discrimination even?

TR: Oh yeah. It’s fierce. It’s in every refugee community. The worst enemy you have is your old friend from home.

ML: And does the status of which you come into the country come into play? If one person comes in as a refugee, and then later on, when the fighting dies down, someone else comes in as an immigrant. Do they clash because of the different statuses?

TR: I think that for some they do. For some they do. And those who have a chip on their shoulders make sure that they do. I don’t want to take away from those kinds of things, but it moves toward the generalization of behavior and tacks itself onto the people who are refugees and it belongs to everyone.

ML: And it’s one of those things that you see more discrimination based on the status for that particular group that society imposes upon.

TR: They bring status differences with them too that they have. And you have problems of people having arguments in the middle of the hardware store – the Serbs and the Bosnians who start talking and make some wise crack or something like that. So those are the old fights going on here.

When this young man who came over who was a request from a NATO guy, he said, ‘Would you help this guy?” So we did. We brought him into our house and we kept him. But this process for him…. He found he had cousins here. Of course, there’s thirty thousand Bosnians in Chicago. So he wasn’t just in a house with some Americans all by himself. All of a sudden, his cousins, who he did not really know, but they were shirttail relatives…. He was invited to a party and they asked where he lived and he told them. And all the Bosnians kind of know me. “How much did you have to pay for that? What did you have to do for that? How did you get him to get you in that situation?” So this was the jealousy that would arise - also natural human behavior, normal human behavior.

The problem that would arise for me that was sad and also continues was the people coming from a special culture. They gather together. They make deals with each other. They organize. “We’ll be partners in this restaurant. We’ll do this. We’ll do that.” They abuse one another in that they will borrow money and say, “Well you know how bad it is.” And then cause heartache. They will hit on each other’s wives. They will do things that are inside…. And the idea is, “It’s inside. Don’t ever say anything.” And they play upon the cultural issues that that bring from [their home country] and they bring them here. And it’s very dangerous and sad.


And a lot of it relates to them being outside of their setting. Like in the marriage situation. There’s nobody standing there holding the pieces together while they sort it out. So they can have their conflict and nobody’s pushing them back into place. And the rest of us have extended families around to do that. But these guys may not have that extension. And the idea that they know each other means also they will get mad at each other when they’re angry about the world. But because of the language and other cultural aspects, only the other one will really understand how mad they are. And so they get mad at each other because they’re using the tools that they have and they don’t have access to the tools here to show anybody that they’re mad. They just get mad at their neighbor, their friend, or somebody. It’s a sadness that’s been very sad to see. If you work hard at it, you can reconcile it. It’s very difficult.


GS: There’s always the possibility of escape. If you did something in your community here, and you get a bad reputation or….in your real community, you couldn’t.

TR: That’s right. That’s also true. And it does happen a lot that way. The biggest thing, for me, for the refugee community and the asylum community, they really are here. They are a fish out of water. And they’re just looking for where they can get back in the water. Some of them build their own aquarium and others ….


DN: We had talked about concepts of identity and value being part of a cultural position, families as an essential part of identity of many of the refugees. In the United States, we’ve discussed the importance of wealth in terms of identity and judging people in this sense. So many of the immigrants who come here do so, come with an idea of achievement of wealth here. We’ve talked about how the refugees don’t have a choice. So how does this American cultural value of wealth impact on the confrontation of the refugee identity with the American sense of values? I mean, I think in many of our interviews, we’ve seen people say, “I like the United States because of the freedom that’s offered here. But I don’t like it that everybody’s chasing money and the family have kind of lost their value.” So could you speak about that and your experiences with the refugees?


TR: There are some who drive after wealth right away. They’re ruthless about it. But then again there are some Americans like that too, so I can’t put it on that ladder. And there are those who believe that now that they are here, they should be looked after. After all, they promised them that. For some of them, they were probably problems in their own society at home. But the business of a middle class, especially when you look at some of the more highly developed societies, Bosnia, Yugoslavia. Those guys, they came here with education. The same coming out of the Middle East. They came here with good educations, good standards, many of them, some not. They continue to carry those differences here that they were there.

I think that the having money issue has been a puzzle for a lot of people. A lot of them, when they got their first check, the first question is, “How come? I thought I earned $10 an hour. I’m only getting paid for $8 an hour. See. They took it all away.” In their country, they didn’t have income tax withdrawn. It was taken out through a different process and the government was run based on a different set of revenue streams that they never understood. So now they’re sitting with their paycheck. And some think that no matter what they get, they can keep it and have no obligation for anything. Those are struggles.


But on the wealth side, I don’t know. I see some who were highly powerful in their former places; judges, lawyers and so on. And they’re looking for the ability to have that ability to change others’ lives. They want that power. And sometimes that’s very difficult for them, because they don’t have the pieces of it. So they’ll have the power over someone next to them, which is what wealth basically is. I’m sharing my personal point of view here. But wealth is usually just an issue of what power is. And that power in their homeland means people tip their hat. And you knew when you needed something for your household or your children, you could have it. You had to do something for it, but you could have it. And there were those in your country that couldn’t have it. And they come here and they find the guy…. I know there was a lot of bitterness that the mason got a job right away and a lawyer couldn’t find a job here except to clean apartment buildings. They were embittered at what was wealth to them didn’t work here. Their brains and those sorts of things. And the other guy didn’t think it was right that he was able to go out and get a job right now. He was promoted because he was so good at it.

DN: I think that’s more power than money itself, what money can bring.

TR: I think that’s something that should be a three semester course. I don’t want to make too much of that statement.

DN: I meant it more in terms of what you were talking about the elderly Russians that are over at Kenmore Tower, and how they’re unhappy and bitter because they have achieved a certain amount with their lives, but when they come here, they have no money…and they don’t feel…


TR: What they don’t have is the ability…and those that are settled over there are the philosophers and the physicists who are still reading their books. Who are still engaged in their profession, even if it’s just for the sake of interest. They brought the profession. Now it never happens in America like this. Now some people who were only in it for the money aren’t going to get any here. But I would work with a lot of the older…like the Russians who were powerhouses where they came from, who were professors of physics and so on. And they would start to feel more and more depressed because there was nothing they could do to get their hands on. When we started to give them activities they could participate in, even if it was the modest senior exercise program, then they found out they could be in charge of something for themselves. I think, in that way…. I look at this money issue as our fixation. Their fixation is their capacity is to have something to do with the environment around them.

DN: I don’t think we have any more questions for Tom right now. Since we’re filming is there anything else that you would like to say?

TR: I’m delighted that you are doing this. That’s all I can say. It’s helped me focus. I’ve started my first chapter on my book. So it keeps me thinking about all this stuff.

DN: Thank you very much. We may come back and ask you more questions.

TR: I’m at your will.

ML: Thank you.

TR: Yeah.